Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Bishop Needs An Alibi by Vannetta Chapman [Review & Giveaway]

In a book I previously reviewed for author, Vannetta Chapman, the following quote really stood out to me...... and I came across it toward the end of When The Bishop Needs an Alibi when the Amish bishop and two others were in the midst of dire danger. It bears repeating.

"Courage is fear that has said it's prayers."
(pg. 129 A Wedding for Julia by Vannetta Chapman)

My thoughts: We met the Amish bishop, Henry Lapp recently in What the Bishop Saw and we learned that he is a gentle, kindly man who is the over shepherd and leader of the community of Amish. He also has quite an unusual talent of being able to subconsciously recall and draw in minute detail scenes he has visited or witnessed. This is because he is an "accidental savant."

Previously the Bishop was involved in solving a mystery using this unusual talent and now he is again embroiled in the terrible situation where a young woman loses her life.

The story locale is the beautiful Colorado San Luis Valley and Bishop Henry is an avid "birder" who loves watching the cranes that frequent the area that has marshes, mountains, and huge sand dunes. But all is not beautiful in this lovely place.

As the kindly and gentle Amish folk gather in the local diner for coffee or a meal or as they gather at the local bakery run by three Amish widow ladies, they pursue clues with their chatter, curiosity, and somewhat meddlesome way. But though fraught with danger, it's all good on their part and the outcome is good. You see, much is afoot in the world of evil and crime and these dear folk seem to get themselves stuck right in the middle of it.

You'll fall in love with the bishop because he is insightful, kind, and full of wisdom which he graciously shares with any and all. Even though falsely accused, he holds no animosity. Even though a pacifist, he knows when to act to protect. And dear Bishop Henry has a precious dog by his side, Lexi which we met in the first book about the Bishop.

I highly recommend this new book by Vannetta Chapman and you can always depend on her books to be clean reads that are "full of grace."


About the book: A Terrible Secret Hides in the Bulrushes

Amish bishop Henry Lapp eagerly awaits the annual arrival of 20,000 sandhill cranes to the San Luis Valley of Colorado. But his visit to the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge reveals more than just a miracle of God's creation. Hidden among the bulrushes and cattails is the deceased body of a young woman.

As the local authorities attempt to unravel the mystery, Henry feels God's calling to use his extraordinary talent to aid in the investigation. His ability to draw from memory in photographic detail could help solve this puzzling case.

Henry's closest friend, Emma Fisher, has always urged him to embrace his gift. As their relationship deepens, Henry realizes his involvement could put him and those he loves in the direct path of a killer, one who is willing to do anything to cover up a brutal crime, including framing the bishop.
When the Bishop Needs an Alibi is a compelling story of faith, friendship, and finding courage only God can provide.
GIVEAWAY - eBook or Print Copy
Begins December 12
Ends January 5, 2018 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author and Harvest House Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. Winner's copy is also provided courtesy of author and publisher.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wonderfully clean and shinny hair with Good Earth Beauty Exclusives Shampoo & Conditioner [Review & Giveaway]

I've already introduced Chat With Vera readers to the lovely online company that produces natural products one small batch at a time and with love. You've met their beauty boxes which are delightful treats packaged with a variety of products and themed in various manners. I've told you about their delightful pumpkin soap, toner, moisturizer, and skin cleanser and lastly, the wonderful fragrances.

Now I want to share with you a little about their hair care products - the Good Earth Beauty Exclusives shampoo. and conditioners. I received small sample bottles of four of the products and all I can say is ----- WOW!
Sample sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner from Good Earth Beauty Exclusives.
Wonderful Pumpkin Chai, beautifully fragrant Bamboo Flower, and beguiling Cranberry Citrus.

These are lovely. The fragrance is subtle and so very pleasant. The way my hair shines after using them is absolutely gorgeous. And the hair is so manageable.

All I can say is good about these all natural products.
My favorite of the samples:
Pumpkin Chai

Now as my readers know, I'm particularly fond of the Pumpkin spice scented products that Good Earth Beauty Exclusives produces and the shampoo and conditioner was simply wonderful! I love the scent plus the shine and the feel of my hair after using these.

Chat With Vera readers may use the discount code of GEB10 to get a 10% discount on their entire order. And orders for USA addresses ship FREE!
Shop for Christmas gifts before it is too late & use the 10% discount code!

Now my readers also have the opportunity to participate in a short-run giveaway for a set of shampoo and conditioner samples. Good Earth Beauty Exclusives will provide the winner with a set so you have the wonderful opportunity to try these for yourself.
GIVEAWAY - FLASH
Begins December 11
Ends December 21 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received the pictured samples to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and given after actively using the items. I received no compensation for this review. Prize will be sent directly to the winner by GoodEarthBeauty.com.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Too Far Down by Mary Connealy from Bethany House Publishing


My thoughts:  Mary Connealy brings her trademark style of writing about cowboys, ranching, thieving orneriness, and sweet romance to this conclusion of the Cimarron Legacy series. The Cimarron Ranch (or CR as it is referred to) is the abode of the Boden family who herd cattle and also mine the land.

The land's story is one of the Spanish or Mexican land grants and the New Mexico land grants and the disputes that individuals carry with them over perceived slights.

The book opens with a blast of rock as the mines are ripped apart by explosions set by an unknown source. The  story follows the clues as the Boden family tries to get to the rock bottom of this meanness.

As the conclusion to the series, the book may be read as a stand alone story. However, it is better to read the series in the order in which they are written to better follow the plight of the Bodens and the machinations of those dead set at ripping the Cimarron right out from under them.

As always, Mary Connealy's books are fun to read, give a glimpse into the old wild west, and good clean stories.

About the book: When an explosion at the mine kills workers and damages the CR Company, the Boden family is plunged deep into the heart of trouble yet again. As they try to identify the forces against them once and for all, Cole Boden finds himself caught between missing his time back in the east, and all that New Mexico offers—namely, his family and cowgirl Melanie Blake.

Read an excerpt
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DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group to facilitate a review of my own opinions. These are my opinions and are freely given.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Stable Cat's Christmas by Christina Vrba and illustrated by Gail Yerrill [Review and Giveaway]

My thoughts: Kittens are cute and cats are cute and some people simply love having cats around as house pets. So this Christmas story will certainly appeal to them. It takes place in the "stable" where the Christ Child was born and is purportedly what the animals that were present felt and did - the shepherd's dog, the "barn or stable cat, the cow.

Certainly not Biblical in content, it is a cute story telling what each animal can give the King (the Christ Child). The primary character is the sandy colored cat and his transformation into the stripped Tabby Cat.

The story is abundant in sweetness and gentleness and the pictures are softly lovely. It is similar to other stories about the animals present when the Christ Child was born but does include a fable or legend or made up tale of how the Tabby Cat got it's lovely stripes.

About the book: One night in Bethlehem, a small, dust-colored cat returns to her stable to find that a Baby has been born in the night. As all the animals tell the cat about the gifts they gave the Christ Child, the cat sadly concludes that she is too little and powerless to give a gift to the King. But when the Baby shivers and the cat leaps into the manger to comfort him, she discovers that she can give the best gift of all—herself. This timeless Christmas book celebrates the fact that everyone has a gift they can give the King, no matter their size or stature. Enchanting illustrations and a heartfelt message make this book a Christmas keepsake that can be enjoyed year after year.
GIVEAWAY
Begins November 30
ENDS December 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Worthy Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Evangelizing children using the tract ministry tools from "LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME"

Let this grandmother tell you a tale. One of a young woman, a mother, a Christian who desired to see her children and children in her church and community come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, as their personal Saviour.

I taught Sunday School. I taught Vacation Bible School. I led the children's choir - "Little Lights" we called them. I led opening assembly in Sunday School. And one year I held Saturday morning children's get togethers for about three hours each allowing mother's some "me" time or shopping time and allowing me the opportunity to share Christ with the little ones.

What a blessing!

And I used tracts for a variety of purposes and reasons. They were written text tracts with cute pictures and some were in the cartoon strip mode. Kids liked them.

But what about today's kids. Kids so accustomed to being bombarded with animation, TV, smartphones, Tablets, computers. Would a tract speak to them? Can it still be used as an evangelism tool to reach a child?

I think so and so do the folks who have created this delightful assortment of tracts and evangelism bracelets. The concept of "The Wordless Book" is utilized in the bracelets with each color telling a part of the Gospel story. So let's take a look at the new tracts that will surely capture the children's attention enabling you to teach them of God's love for them.
Sized so that they are small enough to tuck away 

in a jeans pocket or a purse, these little tracts with just enough text
to keep them interested and convey the message, are designed 
with pop-up pages that add focal interest.
Colorful, quality paper, attention grabbing illustrations,
interesting story, and delightful pop-ups on the pages.


These little tract/booklets are again colorful, well done story,
quality paper, and an added plus of the removable
black plastic "bar" page that you slide across the
pages. Example: the above Joseph and Mary would
appear to move and/or walk when you slide the bar page.
These materials will provide an effective gospel message and can be used as Christian evangelism tools and resources for children. They will help you convey the powerful gospel message of Jesus Christ to children by holding their attention with the core message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Check them out, click here.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

HORMEL GATHERINGS® Party Tray says, "Let's Party!' quick 'n easy [Review & Giveaway]

I have the opportunity to receive free Hormel Gatherings® product in exchange for my honest review to you. And I also was provided the high-value coupons being offered to two of Chat With Vera's readers. So..... read on!

The Hormel Gatherings Supreme Party-Tray
 at Walmart
I've know the name "Hormel" for years as one highly respected in the processed meat and cured ham market. And now in today's fast paced society in which we live, people are looking for ways to simplify life and still have those wonderful moments of gracious entertainment.

Hence, the birth of the Hormel Gatherings assortment of Party Trays. They are ready to pop open and lay out before your guests. Pretty in their own package, but you can go all out and place the goodies on your own party ware.

Life just got easy for you during busy times when you have fun activities and parties to attend or host. You can find these ready made easy appetizers for hosting a game day gathering or movie night or family gathering. You name the event and a party tray is ready-made to make your stress free party easier.

So I just love the Hormel Gatherings party tray. The flavor and quality is superb. With Sargento cheeses, assorted olives, crisp crackers and two types of salami. I just love it.
Hormel Gatherings Supreme® Party Tray 39.7 oz. of fantastic goodness.
HORMEL® Hard Salami, HORMEL® Genoa Salami, Sargento® Pepper Jack Cheese, Sargento® Colby Jack Cheese, Round Crackers, Peloponnese Pitted Olives.

Pair the party tray with anything that suits you and your guests
The large tray with 39.7 oz. meats, cheese, olives, and crackers was $15.98 at my local Walmart. I don't know how much the other two varieties which are slightly smaller in size would cost since my Walmart only had the one variety when I shopped. But if your store has more than one variety (there are several) you have the grand opportunity to get your "party to go" with a quick dash to the store and you're ready.
GIVEAWAY - 2 WINNERS
Each receive one $15 product coupon
Begins November 29
Ends December 19 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received product coupon and gift card to acquire this product from local store and to facilitate this #sponsored review of my own honest review and opinions. I have used this product and can attest to the quality and taste. I participated as a member of the "Social Insiders" product review group.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Gift Books from Candlewick Press [Review and Giveaway USA/CANADA 2 copies each title]

Give the gift of a book to a child. 
Read to a child 20 minutes a day. 
Bond with a child over a book.

For the young Medieval history enthusiast:  Knightology: A True Account of the Most Valiant Knights   

ISBN: 9780763698485 
Hardcover $24.99
My thoughts: This book is jam-packed with information both factual and legend about knights. Librarians should  be clamoring to buy this book for their knight-loving readers. This addresses so many interesting attributes of the period of time in the early 1000s and the Crusades. This is a really nice book with fun flaps and tabs to incentivize the reader to find more information hidden therein. The cover is rich in color, gold foil, and "jewels."

About the book: From the secret order of Round Table Knights comes a tell-all guide to the mythical occupation of knighthood — its history, mysterious quests, and puzzles that live on to this day. Inspired by the life of a most exemplary knight, this fascinating book explores the art of mastering sword and lance, the essential (and prohibitively expensive) war-horse, the ins and outs of a castle that a knight might defend, and the skills needed to prevail in a jousting tournament, with all its pageantry. No investigation of knighthood would be complete without a look at the Crusades, and a celebration of legendary knights such as King Arthur, Sir Lancelot, and Sir Gawain, plus vaunted icons such as Excalibur and the Holy Grail. In true ’Ology fashion, this tip of the lance to a noble (and misunderstood) profession offers a variety of interactive flaps and other novelties to keep young squires fully entertained. What does it really take to be a knight? Peruse this lavish novelty volume and be surprised.



For the curious ones always asking the Five W’s: A World of Information by Richard Platt and illustrated by‎ James Brown 

ISBN: 978076693480
Hardcover $25.00
My thoughts: This is one of those books that a family can purchase and use through the years of educating their entire family. Literally from kindergarten through grade 12. In fact, Mom and Dad might find it educational as well.

Though not a thick book, having only 64 pages, it is large in that it is approximately 11 by 15 inches. And while not a reference book encyclopedic in content, it can most certainly be referred to on a variety of topics leaning heavily on the sciences.

I found it interesting that though the style and font of the book are quaint or old fashioned, the information is definitely up-to-date. I liked, too, the information per topic is contained on a two-page spread and has it's own color.


About the book: From Morse code to the bones in the human body, this visually stunning collection of facts and figures puts a world of information at your fingertips.

How much do clouds weigh? Who invented the pencil? How many ways can you tie a knot? Discover the answers to these and many other questions in this elegant and absorbing miscellany of general knowledge. From music notation to Roman numerals and from the skeleton to the solar system, essential facts are brought to life by stylish infographics and fascinating commentary. Perfect for all ages, this book is sure to amuse and intrigue even the most curious minds.

For everyone STILL looking for Waldo: Where’s Waldo? Destination: Everywhere!  

ISBN: 9780763697266
Hardcover  $19.99
My thoughts: Didn't anyone ever find Waldo? If so, it seems he has slipped away again and needs to be found. What was or is his destination? It's been 30 years since Waldo appeared on the scene and this exclusive anniversary edition revisits destinations with games and searches.

This would be a fun gift for those who like to hunt Waldo or anyone who likes books with look 'n find games or searches. A somewhat large book in dimensions, and only 32 pages. But pages jam-packed with Waldo and lots of fun and games in the search and find category. A sure winner for fans of Waldo!

About the book: Everyone’s favorite bespectacled explorer has been many places — the land of dragon flyers, a Jurassic arena of sports-loving dinosaurs, the set of black-and-white movies in Hollywood. Join Waldo as he handpicks his favorite journeys of all time, revisiting twelve of his most fantastic travels in a new format that includes a surprise at the end of the book. New eye-boggling games await Waldo-watchers alongside every scene in this fresh tribute to Waldo’s many years wandering the world. Have you ever wondered which of his many adventures Waldo loved best?
GIVEAWAY
2 Winners Receive A Set of 3 Books
Begins November 27
Ends December 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA and CANADA addresses.
NO P.O. Boxes, please!
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Gift of Beauty from Good Earth Beauty #Natural Products [Review and Giveaway]


O.k. folks, let's just simplify matters and take an easier course of action for the task at hand - shopping for gifts for the holiday season. Let's do some "armchair shopping." Just sit comfortably in lounger, at table, desk, or rolling along in a vehicle and use your electronic device to let your fingers do the walking as you shop. And let me point you to a lovely website that has natural products and free shipping.

And their stuff is very nice!


Today we're specifically going to look at the Good Earth Beauty product line of "Beauty Boxes." Last February I had the super opportunity to review the Valentine special Beauty Box, "A Rose Is A Rose," and found it lovely. Here is my review. 

So heading fast toward the Christmas holiday, we're going to look at "Holiday box," "Chocolate lovers," and "Pumpkin Anytime" boxes that would make perfect gifts for those ladies on your list. And then at the end you will have the opportunity to enter a giveaway for a chance to win your choice of the three featured boxes.

The Chocolate Lovers Beauty Box

I haven't actually tried these products, but I know Good Earth Beauty and everything I've used works, feels great, and has lovely fragrances. Their soap feels smooth, with lavish lathering, and leaves skin feeling super when finished washing. So want to lavish that flavor of chocolate on someone who loves chocolate? This is the one for you. You can find it online here and it contains:

  • Chocolate Amour pefume by Good Earth Beauty/Mod Perfumery, sample mister
  • Chocolate Amour Body wash by Good Earth Beauty, sample
  • Body Cream - Chocolate Dipped Strawberries by Good Earth Beauty, sample
  • Crazy Rumors Chocolate Strawberries lip balm, full size
  • Chocolate Espresso soap by Good Earth Beauty, full size

The Holiday Beauty Box

Again, I haven't tried this specific beauty box, but these sound scrumptious! And just look at the scents of Christmas goodies it contains......
  • Perfume - Sugar Cookie - by good earth beauty - sample sized roller bottle
  • Perfume -Candy cane cocoa- by good earth beauty  - sample sized roller bottle
  • Lip Scrub - Vanilla by Good earth beauty - 1 oz jar
  • Lip balms - 1 milk chocolate and 1 white chocolate by Good Earth Beauty
  • Flavor extracts - sample bottles - 1 dark chocolate and 1 vanilla by medicine flower
  • AND a deep steep peppermint foot stick 

The Pumpkin Anytime of the Year Beauty Box

I previously reviewed several of the Good Earth Beauty pumpkin products and I can testify that these are fabulous. The fragrance with the essential oils and substance of spices is purely intoxicating. Just lovely. This box contains.....

  • Perfume - Pumpkin by Good Earth Beauty -  Sample roller
  • Shampoo & conditioner - by Good Earth Beauty - 1 oz sample bottles
  • Body Cream  -  By Good Earth Beauty - sample jar
  • AND a full sized Pumpkin Soap by the Grapeseed Company 




And don't forget the men on your list...... a specific item or an assortment in a "beauty" box

 

Other boxes available, but not all you may choose from ....


And while you wait to see if your entry is the winning one, you can shop with DISCOUNT CODE: GEB10 for a 10% discount!
GIVEAWAY
Winner's Choice of 1 of featured Beauty Boxes
Begins November 26
Ends December 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a sample beauty box from Good Earth Beauty to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are given without monetary compensation.

Friday, November 24, 2017

For those finding their voice: La La La: A Story of Hope [Review and Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

For those finding their voice: La La La: A Story of Hope



My thoughts: My personal opinion is that books are sources of information and their purpose is to promote knowledge and literacy.  A "wordless" book or one with extremely limited wordage does nothing to promote literacy. Knowledge can be imparted in various ways. So in essence a wordless book's pictures are the platform on which the impartation of knowledge is transmitted.

In the case of La La La the pictures are charming and so is the little girl. The colors are strong yet somewhat neutral and definitely beyond the primary range. The little girl's facial expressions depict a variety of emotions, especially frustration and/or anger. It is obvious at the beginning that she is singing and getting no response to her performance.

So on the story goes until she elicits a response from the Moon to her little song.

Frankly, while I found it a nice book, well done, well drawn, and certainly lengthy enough (a bit longer than usual picture books), I feel it will leave much to be desired as a book for small children. Parents will definitely have to interpret the book for them. The pursuit for someone to respond to her singing and pay some attention to her on the part of the child is typical of the lonely child. I would think the moon represents the audience of the child's parent who finally gives the needed response interacting with the child.

My rating for the book? Probably a 5-star for the art (love the little girl and also the way it depicts day and night); and I would also say it rates a 5-star for the idea of "hope," though transferring the author's idea to the pages of the book was weak resulting in a 2-star for the "story".  A bit more wordage in the storyline would have been beneficial. While the author is one with a tremendously good reputation for storytelling, it is my opinion that this little book leaves a bit to be desired.

About the book: This nearly wordless graphic story follows a little girl in search of a friend.
"La la la . . . la." A little girl stands alone and sings, but hears no response. Gathering her courage and her curiosity, she skips farther out into the world, singing away to the trees and the pond and the reeds -- but no song comes back to her. Day passes into night, and the girl dares to venture into the darkness toward the light of the moon, becoming more insistent in her singing, climbing as high as she can, but still there is silence in return. Dejected, she falls asleep on the ground, only to be awakened by an amazing sound. . . . She has been heard. At last.


GIVEAWAY
2 Winners
Begins November 24
ENDS December 9 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA and CANADA addresses.
NO P.O. Boxes, please!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and other opinions may certainly differ. I was not compensated for this review.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Come before His presence with thanksgiving

Psalm 100 King James Version (KJV)

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. 

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. 

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale by Penny Parker Klostermann and illustrated by Ben Mantle


Random House Publishing
ISBN: 9781101932322
Hardcover $17.99
My thoughts: There seems to be a lot of interest in the writing world to take classic fairy tales and make them over, weave them together, or piggy back them on stories not even relative to the genre. Folks are calling these "fractured" fairy tales.

So the author of A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale has taken a contemporary boy, placed him in the land of fairy tales, given him a love of cooking and stirred the pot to have his ingredients include items from fairy tales.

This is a cute story and fun to read. The illustrations are cute, colorful, and replete with lots of expression and action.

Now if you, the parent, know your fairy tales, you'll get the gist of things. If your child isn't up to "snuff" in his or her knowledge of all things fairy tales, he may miss the connections. So some of the connectivity will be lost and leave the child muddled as they try to reason matters out. But of course, we don't want to "overthink" a picture book written for youngsters.

So how does Chat With Vera actually feel about A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale? Well, I like it and I don't like it. So given that those feelings hit both ends of the spectrum, I'm thinking perhaps this is a 3 out of 5 star rating. But given the illustrations are quite good in a cute way, I'll say a 4-star rating. And given the fact that the scene about Cinderella's pumpkin chariot being a pumpkin pie because our contemporary kid had baked the pumpkin into a pie was so roll-over-on-the-floor funny, I'd say definitely a 4-star. The only downside was the fact that little kids might miss some connections.

So go ahead and check one out at the library and enjoy. Well, just go ahead and buy one because when were fairy tales so funny?

About the book: From the creators of There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight comes a fun fractured fairy tale about an aspiring chef who mistakenly turns story ingredients into delectable dishes. . . . Uh-oh!

In the magical land of fairy tales, William doesn't quite fit in. He'd rather poach pears than pursue princesses, and he values gnocchi over knighthood. . . .

When he stumbles on a delivery of food destined for Fairy-Tale Headquarters (a pumpkin, apples, and a few measly beans), he decides to spice things up and whips the paltry ingredients into delectable dishes. But as you might have guessed, Snow White's wicked stepmother doesn't exactly want her magic apple baked and drizzled with caramel.

The team that brought you There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight delivers a hilariously fractured, whipped, and souffleed fairy tale that is chock-full of delicious details and jokes to satisfy every appetite!

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher to facilitate a review of this cute, funny, tickle-your-funnybone picture book. Opinions are just mine, alone and are freely given.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Christmas time is music time: The Twelve Days of Christmas: Pop Up and We Wish You a Merry Christmas [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

Through the years, I think my favorite "feel good" part of Christmas is the beautiful music. I prefer the classic music of the season - secular and religious. First of all I love the beautiful Christmas carols that tell us the story of the birth of the Saviour, Jesus Christ. And then I love the haunting and yet cheerful music that the secular world has enveloped the holidays in.

Children relish the opportunity to joyfully sing all these wonderful songs.  Here are a couple of books that bring some of the fun, joyful singing to the season.


The Twelve Days of Christmas (Panorama Pops) - Candlewick Press

My thoughts:  This is such a charming little treasure. The way it is designed is really unusual in that it unfolds like an accordion with the first six "days" on side one and the days seven through twelve on the reverse. Each day has a cute cutout that lifts as the page is turned or the accordion fold spread out. The pictures are beautifully drawn and painted lending a quality that spans the years in which you can treasure the little book.

Small and compact at approximately 4"x4" with its protective sleeve, this is a fun book to own and keep for enjoying year after year.




About the book: Enjoy gorgeous art by an award-winning illustrator in this enchanting 3-D rendition of a beloved Christmas carol.


On the first day of Christmas
my true love sent to me . . .

Unfurl a delightful accordion-fold book to find a turtle dove rising on the wing, a sprightly lord a-leaping from the page, and many more elements of the familiar seasonal song. Featuring the captivating art of Grahame Baker-Smith, this Christmas keepsake tucks back into a slipcase until the next holiday season.



Sing Along With Me! We Wish You A Merry Christmas - Nosy Crow Publishing

My thoughts: Charming! Sweet! Moveable tabs on each page allow child interaction. While the music isn't with the book, you can scan the QR Code that takes you right to the sweet rendering of the song on the Nosy Crow website.

This is a sturdy board book suitable for ages 2-5 and delightfully illustrated. The folks at Nosy Crow know children and children's books!

Watch the short video below to get an idea how charming the book is.

GIVEAWAY
2 Winners each win a set of 2 books
Begins November 22
Ends December 8 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA and CANADA addresses
NO P.O. Boxes, please.
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Getting ready for a "Geographic Bee"? Check out "How to Ace the National Geographic Bee" from National Geographic [Review & Giveaway]

Many years ago when I was a secondary school student, yep a long time ago, they taught geography as a class in school. I loved geography and maps and learning about people, places, and pretty much everything global. But I didn't enjoy giving oral reports which were required weekly. Reports on countries, weekly reader (our news source) reports, etc. This always caused moments of dread and insecurity.

So I offer real heart-felt praise to kids who not only have the knowledge of world geography to head for a Geography Bee (think "spelling bee" on steroids) but the personality to actually stand in front of people - large groups of people - and be judged for their knowledge.

I also offer real thanks to the National Geographic Society for getting schools and private entities involved in the instruction of students in the subject of geography. For awhile, this was not available to students in schools and was a real deficit.

Part of this renewed interest in the subject and focus on geography has been the annual National Geographic Bee. And students are preparing for this entertaining and challenging local, state, and national competition. Students in grades 4-8 who have amassed a lot of world geographic knowledge will compete. To prepare they not only pay close attention to what they learn in school, they glean knowledge from other sources as well. One of the best to ready them for this challenging competition is the How to Ace the National Geographic Bee. The book is packed with a plethora of maps, charts, pictures, statistics, and pertinent information bites that will most certainly prepare the most avid student for being an astute student of geography.

Quite frankly, I am literally amazed at the amount of information this little book contains on this world, the countries, their capitals, the people, the land masses, the populations, etc. A real educational treasure.

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How to Ace the National Geographic Bee, 5th Edition (ages 9-12) 


This book is the only official study guide available and is chock full of tips from previous finalists, past questions, a country index of vital stats, and recommendations for the best study tools.  The Bee is designed to engage students in diverse ways, challenging them to memorize geographic knowledge, synthesize it, and apply it accurately, compellingly, and creatively.  How to Ace the National Geographic Bee is specifically written to prep the aspiring champion with not just facts, but thought-process as well.  It offers a top ten list of study tips – “learn the language of maps” (latitude and longitude, meridians and Mercators) and “choose your tools” (a large world map, an atlas, and satellite images are a must!) – and advice from past finalists, including “trust your gut,” “be passionate,” and “take the opportunity to learn.” A comprehensive list of sample questions range from “Harry [Potter] catches the train to Hogwarts at Kings Cross station in what major European city?” to “What landlocked country is located farther from an ocean – Paraguay or Kazakhstan?”


About the National Geographic Bee:  

The Bee involves more than 10,000 schools and millions of students from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and Department of Defense Dependents Schools overseas. After passing their school’s Bee which occur in the Fall, the online qualifying test, and State Bee, the 54 “state” champions receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Championship May 20-23, 2018.  After a preliminary competition on May 21, the top 10 students will compete in a televised final round on May 23, vying for a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the Society, including a subscription to National Geographic magazine, and an all-expenses-paid Lindblad expedition to the Gal├ípagos Islands aboard the new National Geographic Endeavour ll. Travel for the trip is provided by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic. Second- and third-place finishers will receive $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships, respectively. The program will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD, and later on public television stations nationwide.

How to Ace the National Geographic Bee is the perfect resource to help millions of school kids prepare to compete in the Bee. It's also a fun and helpful resource for trivia buffs, challenge seekers, and college-bound test-takers.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic Kids to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Really Woolly Christmas Blessings By DaySpring and Bonnie Rickner Jensen

ISBN: 9780718097417
Board Book $9.99

My thoughts: Grandmommies usually have a soft, warm-fuzzy spot for kiddie board books. Perhaps it began when our own children were young and had "cloth" books or the wide assortment of Little Golden Books. But back-in-the-day our little children didn't have good books that were charming, sturdy, and crafted with top of the line writing. I guess that tells how old this grandmommy is, but the truth of the matter is that I just love board books like Really Wooly Christmas Blessings.

This is a sturdy board book with slightly padded cover and sized just right for young (not tiny) hands to carry about. The sweet animals, angels, shepherds, and others with lovely colors are charming. Each two page spread is a story in verse and an accompanying Bible verse from the International Children's Bible. (Chat With Vera reader know my preference is KJV). There is a short prayer bringing an end to the reading.

The focus of this little book is blessings! The blessing of God's Plan. The blessing of baby Jesus! And on to the daily blessings of a friend, a song, light, etc. You can take a little one from Christmas time's wondrous story of the Saviour's birth into the child's daily life and teach him or her to recognize that there are blessings abounding all around us. The message of this book encompasses the might and power of the name of Jesus, His birth, His good news, His light. This is a powerful intro written in a sweet, heartwarming rhyme that will seat these truths into the heart and mind of a child.

Thomas Nelson Publishers and TommyNelson with DaySpring have produced a very nice little book for little ones. I highly recommend.


About the book: Christmastime is full of blessings, and the Really Woolly characters celebrate every part of the season—from time with family and friends, to sledding and decorating, to the joy of giving to others.

Cuddle up close with your little one, and enjoy the precious rhymes, meaningful Bible verses, simple prayers, and endearing illustrations that teach about the greatest Christmas gift of all—the birth of Jesus.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook Blog Review program on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishers and the author to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible by Jared Kennedy, Illustrated by Trish Mahoney from New Growth Press [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: I have found publications from New Growth Press to be Biblically accurate and well written. The illustrations chosen for each of the publications for children that I have reviewed have been different and quite interesting and appealing. Previous books I've reviewed were by Marty Machowski and well done. Mr. Machowski highly recommends Jared Kennedy's (MDiv, ThM) The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible saying, "...I will be placing a copy of this book in all our children's ministry classrooms and recommending that every family in our church with small children add it to their bookshelf." High praise from a pastor and children's book author.

This is a somewhat large book but not overly so. There are about 50 stories so you can do one a week or more - whatever suits your family schedule. The illustrations are graphic designs done by Trish Mahoney and very colorful in the primary color range. The people are stylized and not realistic looking.

A brief application is made with each story enabling parents to guide children in their thinking outside of the actual storyline.

With the assortment of Old Testament and New Testament stories, you can begin to teach your young child the beauty of knowing their Bible and the lessons it holds for everyone. I like that the stories in this compilation include Paul's missionary journeys and the promise of Christ's second coming.

About the book: Kids know the value of a promise. Through the gospel, our good and all-powerful God keeps his word and fulfills his promises to us better than we could have ever thought or imagined!

In The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible, author Jared Kennedy traces God's perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories, retold in simple and compelling ways with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Each gospel-centered story highlights God's tale of redemption through Jesus and the unexpected and surprising ways that God's grace and mercy are revealed throughout the Bible. Children will hear the good news of God's love for them clearly expressed in ways that will speak to their young hearts. Brightly colored illustrations highlight the stories and add fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to keep even the youngest child's attention. Every story also ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the message.
  • Through reading this book one chapter at a time to your children---or letting them read it to you!---even the youngest kids will come to know that God's promises are especially for them, and that God always keeps his promises.
  • Gospel-centered Bible stories expressed in ways that speak to toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Children will learn the good news of God's love for them.
  • Traces God's perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories.
  • Brightly colored illustrations by Trish Mahoney highlight each story and add fun elements to keep young children's attention.
  • Each story ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to reinforce the message.
More information, read a sample, and purchase a copy: here

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Author: Jared Kennedy, MDiv, ThM, is the husband to Megan and the father of three girls---Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. He serves as Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church-Midtown in Louisville, KY and as children's ministry strategist for Sojourn Network. He blogs regularly at gospelcenteredfamily.com and is also the coauthor of Leadership Mosaic and two VBS programs, Proof Pirates and Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher and author to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy is provided by the publisher and winner is selected using the Rafflecopter system.

VANISHING POINT (A Nikki Boyd Novel book #4) by Lisa Harris [Review & Giveaway]


My thoughts: Vanishing Point has a different "feel" to the story in that it doesn't have Nikki Boyd as the primary character. The plot involves the total career of the serial murderer that caused the death of the sister of Nikki Boyd, Sarah. This book takes the reader back to the investigation of cases prior to Sarah's and then leaps to current time when another young woman is missing.

The main characters of Vanishing Point are a local investigatory, Garrett, and Jordan an FBI agent who is called in to help with the local investigation. And coincidentally, Garret and Jordan were once an "item." They both still have feelings for the other but don't act on them, moving on.

But another case investigation brings them back together years later. Following accumulating clues in a series of murders and juggling their feelings toward each other, Garrett and Jordan encounter obstacles that test their fortitude and problem solving abilities.

Thought provoking references to the age old question of "Where is God when bad things happen?" are raised and conclusions worth considering for resolution to this issue are pointed discussions and thought processes in the story.

While written in a slow, steady pace in the early portions of the book, a rapid, nail biting suspenseful end wraps up the four book series and places the culprit squarely in the hands of officials.

About the book: During Garrett Addison's first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She's the third victim in a string of disappearances with one thing in common--a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies--number six--Garrett blames himself and believes he doesn't have what it takes to be an agent. What he'll discover is that, while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him--or Jordan.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris unveils an unforgettable story of a case that has haunted the public and law enforcement for more than a decade. Fans of the Nikki Boyd Files will thrill to finally discover what actually happened to Nikki's sister, Sarah. New readers will become instant fans after devouring this chilling tale. Universal Buy Link for Vanishing Point: books2read.com/u/31MQDv
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Begins November 20
ENDS December 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. Giveaway is provided by the author or publisher directly to the winner.