Friday, August 18, 2017

Have you ever wondered at the skill and beauty of an artist at work? Have you ever desired to peek behind the pages of that lovely children's book to see the way life is brought to the story in such an enchanting way?

I have and I envy the skill of these gifted illustrators. Here are a couple of clips showing the deft handling of color to the penned in drawings. Admire with me a bit.....


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Light of Dawn (The Remnant Series #3) by Vannetta Chapman [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  As the group of survivors live out the horrific life that exists in Chapman's conclusion to The Remnant Series, the reader vicariously experiences their deprivation, fear, and ultimate joys.

This is not science fiction where aliens attack and man is fighting for the survival of mankind. No, this dystopian story revolves around the very realistic life that exists once modern achievements are destroyed. There is no electricity, no manufacturing, no technology, no hospitals, no mass transit, no government - state or federal. And there is rampant anarchy, terror, crime with a sprinkling of kindness and good.

Man is seen at his worse and man is seen at his best.

Old ways of healing emerge as do management of society by either caring individuals or criminal, gang elements. And the question of survival of the United States Government is woven into the series ending.

As with other books by Vannetta Chapman (she writes contemporary, Amish, and dystopian series), her writing is tops. Her character development realistic and compelling. Her plot line engaging and drawing to the reader. I have completely enjoyed this series just as I have other books by Ms. Chapman.

I highly recommend this book and encourage you to read the entire series in order.

About the book: Before Dawn, What Dangers Lurk in the Darkness?

For nine months, since a devastating solar flare caused a complete failure of the electrical grid, Shelby Sparks and her diabetic son, Carter, have been living at the ranch of Shelby's high school sweetheart, Max Berkman.

Mostly insulated from the chaos surrounding them, Shelby and Max discover that the Texas government has fled the capitol and is barely maintaining control of the state. The governor needs volunteers to search for the new federal government, but no one knows exactly where it might be located—if it even still exists—or what perils await those brave enough to take on the mission.

Compelled by Carter's desperate need for insulin and their God-given sense of duty, Shelby and Max answer the governor's call and set out on a treacherous 600-mile journey, where they will experience the terrifying effects of unrestrained anarchy. If they have the faith and fortitude necessary to reach their destination, what will they find when they get there?

In this thrilling conclusion to the Remnant trilogy, America is left teetering between total collapse and the dawn of a new and vastly different reality.

The Series (click to see my reviews): #1 Deep Shadows #2 Raging Storm

Begins August 16
Ends September 6 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the author: Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She is the author of many novels, including the Pebble Creek Amish series, Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series, and Plain and Simple Miracle series. Vannetta is a Carol award winner and also received more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She currently writes Christian suspense, Amish romance, and Amish mystery. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas hill country. For more information, visit her at

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy provided graciously by the author and shipped directly to winner from author or publisher.

God's Crime Scene for Kids by J. Warner Wallace (from David C.Cook Publishing) [Giveaways - 2]

About the book: In this companion to Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, Jason uncovers a mystery in his grandmother's attic. He and his friends, Hannah, Daniel and Jasmine, enlist the help of Detective Jeffries at the Jr. Detective's Academy. Along the way, they develop the skills needed to investigate the mystery and the evidence of God's existence. The cadets learn logical-thinking skills as they examine the contents of a mysterious box and the vast universe.

In God's Crime Scene for Kids, real-life detective J. Warner Wallace shows kids ages 8 to 12 what skills are needed to solve Jason's mystery, and at the same time looks at evidence in the universe that demonstrates God is the creator. Ultimately, kids will learn how to make their own case for God's existence.

Give kids the tools to investigate the evidence of God
in His creation! Sign up for the tour in the sidebar.

About the author: J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective who has been featured on Dateline, FOX News, and Court TV. A former atheist, he is the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God's Crime Scene. Wallace has a master's degree in theology and lives in California with his wife and four children.
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GIVEAWAY #1 - A Copy for One Reader
Begins August 15
ENDS August 31 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
GIVEAWAY #2 - Mystery Investigation Kit
God's Crime Scene for Kids
More reviews and information -click here

Watch for Chat With Vera's review coming soon!

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped to winner by author or publisher.

Monday, August 14, 2017

National Geographic Kids United States Atlas, 5th Edition [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781426328312
$12.99 - Softcover
Ages 8 - 12
National Geographic Kids United States Atlas is debuting this year for tweens and will help students tackle the bigger workloads and more advanced thinking they are sure to encounter when they walk into the classroom this Fall....

My thoughts:  The study of maps and related geographic information has fascinated me. I have found that a well-conceived atlas provides a mass of information in pictorial and bite sized information format that is readily assimilated by all ages. For that reason, I find that having a quality atlas in the home, classroom, and school library of paramount importance.

The expected accuracy and quality of the National Geographic Kids United States Atlas, 5th Edition ranks top of the list of books to pursue for the age 8 to 12 child. Other ages will benefit from this publication as well.

Grouped regionally, each state has its own two pages showing a map with small images indicating products of the economy and where these are produced. Natural resources and conditions are shown as well as information specific to that state (location of Indian reservations, national forests, etc.).

The map showing natural hazards - blizzards, drought, floods, hurricanes, ice storm, tornado, wildfire, earthquakes, tsunami - was quite interesting to me as were other facts and images showing the variety that is The United States of America.

Truly a book to add to a child's educational collection and reference collections of children's libraries.

About the book: National Geographic Kids United States Atlas, 5th Edition (ages 8-12, $12.99) - This is THE gold standard of atlases and a must-have reference for home or school.  Featuring more than 75 maps, over 350 color images, lively photo essays, and an easy-to-use place-name index, National Geographic’s world-renowned cartographers have paired up with education experts to create an unparalleled resource of information about the United States.  Kids will discover the latest data and trends regarding land and water, people and places and eight socially themed maps on nature, population, energy and fire delve deeper into key issues.
Begins August 15
Ends September 5 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

God's Crime Scene for Kids' Mystery Investigation Kit Giveaway

Join your children in learning how to determine the most reasonable cause for everything we see in creation with a real-life detective! In God's Crime Scene for Kids, J. Warner Wallace shows kids ages 8 to 12 what skills are needed to solve Jason's mystery. Jason uncovers a mystery in his grandmother's attic. He and his friends, Hannah, Daniel and Jasmine, enlist the help of Detective Jeffries at the Jr. Detective's Academy. Your kids will look at evidence in the universe that demonstrates God is the creator and ultimately learn how to make their own case for God's existence.

Help your kids become detectives who investigate creation for signs of God and His creativity by entering to win the Mystery Investigation Kit!

One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on August 31. The winner will be announced September 1 on the Litfuse blog.

Precious Moments Little Book of Bible Stories by Jean Fisher (Published by Thomas Nelson)

Board book $9.99
My thoughts:  This is a charmingly sweet Bible story book for the very young child that encompasses the entire scope of the Bible from The Beginning to The Ascension. The stories are just a few sentences and an accompanying short prayerful verse. The Scripture reference is given with condensed quote. Again, my preference would be King James Version. This little book uses the International Children's Bible.

The illustrations are absolutely charming and will captivate the child's attention. I do like that images of some characters are not the "Precious Moments" style. Example: Goliath looks to be a big, mean, fierce warrior. This sets the tone for that story as do the pictures portraying Jesus with the children and other stories. Jesus looks like a real person and the children are the "Precious Moments" style drawings.

A simplification of a story can not contain all the details and may seem inaccurate to some. I don't think that is the case in Little Book of Bible Stories. In the case of the story of Noah and the Flood, some animals were on the ark by two's and there were more than two of some of the animals. So when the storyteller says Noah took two of each, it is not necessarily an error, it is simplification for this particular "telling."

A lovely little book and one I can recommend.

About the book: Share beloved Bible stories with your little one!

Snuggle up close and imagine the animals entering Noah’s boat two by two, David standing before Goliath with just a slingshot, or Jesus blessing the children. These Bible stories will capture young hearts as they learn about God’s great love.

With classic Precious Moments® illustrations, simple Bible verses, favorite Bible stories, and fun rhymes, Little Book of Bible Stories will help introduce the power of God’s Word to your precious children.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Friday, August 11, 2017

WHOSE MOON IS THAT? by Kim Krans (from Random House Publishing)

ISBN: 978-1101932278
Hardcover $17.99
My thoughts:  How timely here in August 2017 to have a picture book that addresses the question of ownership of the Moon. The full moon of August 2017 is especially stunning and during August the moon will eclipse the Sun in an amazing display. As our interest in the Moon turns our eyes heavenward, it is appropriate for children to learn much about the Moon and to give reason to the fact that the Moon is not his or hers and that it belongs to everyone.

 I love how the story is told in short lines of lyric verse that flow easily throughout. The illustrations in black ink against white with stunning blues, black, and brilliant water colors are integrated to capture the darkness that is "the night" and the colors one might see throughout the universe should light penetrate.

Though the curious cat sees and envisions the moon as possibly his own, he is soon set straight in his thinking by the bird, tree, stars, and sky who all claim it is theirs and for their own specific reason for claiming ownership. Eventually, though, the Moon sets everyone straight in stating that he is no one's and that his glow is for everyone, everywhere.

A grand opportunity for parents and teachers to share with young readers and listeners to the story that all that is in nature is everyone's to enjoy and appreciate - the sun, moon, stars, clouds, light, dark, air, wind, warmth, etc.

A lovely  book for ages 3 to 7.

About the book:  Kim Krans’s stunning picture book WHOSE MOON IS THAT? addresses the question: do any of us “own” nature?

When a curious cat asks the question, "Whose moon is that?", a panoply of animals try to stake their claim. The wolf, the owl, and the starry sky all have their reasons, but the moon ultimately answers for herself -- her light is meant to be shared by everyone. The stunning ink-and-watercolor illustrations beautifully illuminate this simple exploration of our relationship to the world around us and our place in it.

DISCLOSURE: I received an advance review galley copy from Random House to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Animalium: Welcome to the Museum curated by Katie Scott and Jenny Brioom

ISBN13: 9782203098923
Published 2015
Candlewick Press
My thoughts: As with Botanicum: Welcome to the Museum when I reviewed it, I was simply fascinated and thoroughly impressed with the presentation, information, and art of the beautiful oversized book. In Animalium: Welcome to the Museum, we have a pretty clear presentation of Darwin's evolutionary theory as being an accepted theory. I disagree and hold to the Creation concept of the species. I still think, however, that this is a fascinating book and those who hold to either origin of creatures will discover much to interest them.

The accurate drawings are exquisite and the book is printed in an oversized format on heavy ivory toned paper. There is an antique or museum quality look to the book and drawings as presented. This makes it even more special to me.

Animalium: Welcome to the Museum and Botanicum: Welcome to the Museum, while designated for the age 8 to 12 child, utilizes information and vocabulary that might be beyond the realm of this age group making the books fitting upward to adults. Introduction of vocabulary and scientific information can begin at any age and more is often absorbed than imagined possible. However, the majority of age 8 to 12 students will find some of the text daunting. And no, this is not your toddlers lovely animal picture book. This is a book that provides insight into the groupings of animals and species. It encompases virtually the whole spectrum of living creatures.

There is an Animalium Poster Book for sale and other items at Candlewick.
Animalium Activity Book (Paperback)
Informative, imaginative, and artistic activities for young naturalists everywhere.
Animalium Coloring Book (Paperback)
A beautiful coloring book from the creators of the celebrated book Animalium
Animalium Poster Book (Paperback)
A follow-up to the best-selling Animalium.
About the book: Welcome to the Museum is a series of books set on the “walls” of the printed page, showcasing the world’s finest collections of objects — from natural history to art. Open 365 days a year and unrestricted by the constraints of physical space, each title in this series is organized into galleries that display more than 200 full-color specimens accompanied by lively, informative text. Offering hours of learning, this first title within the series — Animalium — presents the animal kingdom in glorious detail with illustrations from Katie Scott, an unparalleled new talent.
Animalium presents the animal kingdom in glorious detail with illustrations from Katie Scott, an unparalleled new talent.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Weird but True! Daily Planner: 365 Days to Fill with School, Sports, Friends and Fun (National Geographic Kids) [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781426327933
Spiral Bound $16.99
Ages 8 to 12
National Geographic Kids Books is debuting two back-to-school titles for tweens that will help students tackle the bigger workloads and more advanced thinking they are sure to encounter when they walk into the classroom this Fall. This review is about the new Daily Planner" for ages 8 to 12 students.

My thoughts: Having worked in schools for 35 years and having raised my own five children, I know the importance of having a place to write down in organized fashion what the child is responsible for on a daily basis. Writing down the homework assignments on a scrap of paper simply doesn't "cut" it. Having a tablet which you devote solely for writing homework assignments in daily is a step in the right direction. Learning to use a daily planner that encompasses more than just homework is really a giant step toward responsibility.

It's that time of the year when all those school supplies are being sought out and bought in quantity. Such a plethora of items from which to choose and so hard on mommy's purse and daddy's budget. But I have a grand suggestion for one of those "over-the-top" purchases.

Get the National Geographic Kids Weird but True! DAILY PLANNER. This is a fantastic daily planner with the necessary spots for recording and tracking those "must be done" things and those practises, events, and fun times. Not only is this a tool for keeping the 8 to 12 year old organized and on target, it is simply packed with fun pictures and facts about the world that will fascinate. There is fun stuff as well. Such as thoughtful suggestions....
"It might be cold outside, but who says you can't be stylish? Doodle some cool hat designs next to your to-dos for the week."
"Turn that frown upside down! Write a weird poem to brighten someones day." 
"Make up a joke that starts with, "A dinosaur, an insect, and a math teacher are in a canoe...."

I can hardly wait to pass this along to my grand-girl. She is going to have a blast with it and get herself really organized as well.

About the book: Nat'l Geo Kids has made getting organized for school FUN and injects some creative thinking into the process, too!  In the planner, each day of the school year is peppered with weird-but-true facts.  Turn the pages and write the class schedule for the year, record school work, keep track of activities, and plan social time, all while learning wild things about the world around them. Fun writing prompts invite students to celebrate weirdness and hone their writing skills at the same time. Plus there are homework help sections, useful distance, volume, weight and multiplication charts and tons of space to write or doodle their daily schedule any way they wish. With beautiful full-color artwork and engaging information and activities, this is the must-have planner for the 2017/2018 school year. Spiral bound and durable, it will last until the final school bell rings in June.
Begins August 9
Ends August 30 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic Kids to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given. I was not compensated.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jonré Anti-Aging Moisturizer [Review & Discount Code]

My thoughts: Jonré Anti-Aging Moisturizer is a lovely product that is designed to use on one's face to protect against the effects of aging and to correct the appearance of lines in the skin.

I used it applying  a small to moderate amount using upward rotating motions all over my face, neck, and chest. I avoid the eye area since this product is not intended to be used around the eye area and one doesn't want to risk an irritant to the eyes. After applying the cream, I found it to be pleasant to use and leaving my face and neck feeling fresh and moisturized or hydrated.

I realize this is intended to be a before bedtime product, however, I tried it a few times during the day as a moisturizer prior to applying makeup and the effect is lovely. As one ages, it is important to opt for a product that aids in adding a bit of a glow. I found that this product does a good job of that.

After using the product for a week, I think my skin looks quite nice. No, all the wrinkles are not gone, but I really don't think they are as noticeable. I think perhaps that continued use will aid in preventing additional wrinkles or worsening those already in place (to some degree).

I am pleased with this product.

Find and purchase Jonré - click here

Special offers and product promotions

  • SAVE 5% with a SINGLE JONRE FACE MOISTURIZER purchase offered by Jonré. Enter code 5DEDUCTS at checkout.

Product information (from Jonré) - Never Feel Itchy Dry Skin Again When Rolling Out of Bed! This Is A Rich, Night Cream, Smoothing Your Face To A Radiant Glow! 

Glowing Radiantly - Facial Moisturizer:
Plumps the Skin • Leaves Skin Hydrated Soft and Supple • Your Dry Dehydrated Skin Will Become Extremely Moist.
Prevent Aging Process - Anti Aging Moisturizer: Fights Against Sagging Skin • Gives An Immediate Face Lifting Effect • Your Fine Expression Lines Are Diminished • Giving An Even Skin Texture And Restored Skin Appearance.
Stimulate Collagen - Anti Wrinkle Face Cream: Works As a Reduction of Wrinkles • Tighter Skin • Reduces Appearance of Aging • Cell Regeneration • Provides Nourishing Moisturization to Prevent Dryness.
Restore Damaged Skin Moisturizer for Dry Skin: Strengthens Skins Natural Defense against Moisture Loss • Does Not Leave an Oily Residue on the Skin • Does Not Clog the Pores • Recaptures Youthful Luminosity. 

What are some of the Jonré ingredients? (See more on the Amazon site)

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate use and review of this product from Jonré. Opinions are derived from my own use and solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Gathering the Threads (The Amish of Summer Grove #3) by Cindy Woodsmall from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing

My thoughts: The concluding book of the Amish of Summer Grove series, Gathering the Threads, takes an already unusual story for "Amish fiction" and packs a powerful ending as the threads of this group of people thoroughly mended together by family, life, faith, and community are finally sewn together into one beautiful finality.

This is not your typically sweet, quaint story of the people who are of Amish Christian beliefs and live in their strict community. It is one where the outside world has already broken the barriers and now openings to customs, people, problems, thought processes, and solutions so very different from their own bring to the forefront issues long buried or tolerated. And yet into their own rigidly  controlled faith community where the Bishop's rule overrides all thought and even Biblical injunctions, they find that they still have obligations to the laws that government people of all communities.

Interestingly, Gathering the Threads is also a story about an awakening to social injustices and a move to secure the protection of those abused in their homes. There is a need for change and a need for forgiveness.

And there is love or romance that is tenderly woven through and it is, of course, quite discrete and definitely a good, clean read.

While Gathering the Threads, can surely be read as a stand-alone book, it will be more enjoyable to read books one and two in the series. I personally recommend you read the books in succession simply because they are all good reads and worth delving into.

About the book: After three months of draus in da Welt, Ariana has returned to Summer Grove, the Old Order Amish community where she was raised for twenty years, and life with her Brenneman family. Skylar Nash, the Englisch-raised young woman is working in Ariana s cafe while getting to know her birth family and their Plain way of life. Skylar's time in Summer Grove has changed her outlook, just as Ariana has grown to see her personal faith in God in a different light than the manner she was taught while growing up. Both women will have to make decisions about their paths and Ariana must decide what role her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, will play in her life.
Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series."
Preorder at
Book release date: August 15, 2017

About the author: Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA bestselling author of numerous works of fiction and one of nonfiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media. She lives in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains with her family. Learn more at

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words by K.M. Kostyal, illustrated by Fred Harper from National Geographic Kids [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  Who ever thought that learning could be so much fun? My guess is that the folks at National Geographic Kids (amongst others) decided that kids need a bit of incentive to encourage them to delve into the lives of historical figures, historical events, and applying what happened "way back then" to today's world. With the creation of Benjamin Franklin's Wise Words publisher, author, and illustrator have teamed together to compile, categorize, and present familiar quotes of Ben Franklin as well as those obscure words of wisdom that this grand old man from history bandied about.

I love the way the quotes are categorized which helps to go back and find a quote specific to a subject. I think the terse explanation in varied typesets directly under the quote "spot on" in being appropriate. And the couple of great anecdotal paragraphs follow which tell a bit about Mr. Franklin himself throughout his life and how his choice of words (specifically the quote on the page) applied to him.

So while the young reader (and parents and teachers as well) is absorbing these "wise words" they are gaining a bit of knowledge about how it can apply to them and read a short bit about Mr. Franklin. (He was apprenticed at age 12. He had three children of his own. He wrote furiously about the colonists' massacre of native Americans.)

This is a fun, educational, and timely book that I hope will find its way into libraries everywhere and into teacher resources for classroom use. Perhaps someone wants to bless a school library or a classroom with a copy as school for the year 2017-2018 begins. I highly recommend.

About the book: Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words by K.M. Kostyal, illustrated by Fred Harper. (ages 8-12, $16.99, hardcover) - In this day and age, we could all use some words of wisdom and there are but a precious few individuals that have proven themselves to be of a greater mind than Benjamin Franklin.  Complete with fifty of Ben Franklin's renowned sayings and paired with modern-day translations, whimsical caricature artwork and fascinating stories about Franklin’s life, this title gives sage advice on everything from good citizenship and manners to friendship, achieving your dreams and being happy. It's a great go-to for inspirational and innovative ways to practice mindfulness, industriousness, and self-improvement by one of the United States’ most famous Founding Fathers.  History buffs young and old will particularly enjoy the book’s forward by H.W. Brands.  Brands’ book, The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Begins August 5
ENDS August 25 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic Kids Books and the author to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

From a seed of faith, grows hope: “ALL SAINTS” movie premiers 8-25-17 starring John Corbett [Giveaway - 2 ticket codes] #sponsored

“ALL SAINTS” starring John Corbett, will be one that makes your heart stir and make you realize God is bigger than we make him to be.

I haven't seen the movie since it has yet to be released. However, I have watched the trailers and information video clips about it. Based on a true story, this promises to be a moving story and one not to miss. So this is NOT a review of the movie but an opportunity for you to learn about it's release and have the opportunity to try to win a couple of tickets for yourself..

The story is of a failing church and Burmese refugees resettled in Tennessee. It tells how they came together to worship and grew into a loving, sharing community. To raise money for the church they planted the surrounding acreage belonging to the church with crops. Then the sharing began. But the miracles started way before the crops came in.

ALL SAINTS will be out in theaters nationwide Friday, 8/25/17. Watch the following and see what all the chatter is about.

More videos to watch - Behind the Scenes: 

The Heart of the Movie: com/watch?v=iXv6h8avzFM  
All Saints: John Corbett Decisions: https://www. Ecr5uwJbZjA
The Pastors of All Saints: com/watch?v=rDADYtgVWog  
The Miracles of All Saints: com/watch?v=yLw27W_WuhY

Tickets to the movie may be purchased at

2 FREE Fandango ticket codes via an email! 
Begins August 3 @ 12:00 Midnight EDT
Ends August 14 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only. 
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
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 4 ticket codes in exchange for this promo post and I am giving 2 of the ticket codes as the giveaway prize.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The Beginning (The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls #1) by M.J. Thomas & illustrated by Graham Howells

On sale August 8, 2017
ISBN: 9780824956844

A Time-Traveling Adventure Series Helping Kids Discover the Bible

Bible story books teach in a variety of methods the truths of the Bible enabling children to learn and comprehend at an early age. As the child's reading skills expand they want to read chapter books and they want to be entertained. It is especially nice when these new levels of reading can also teach in an entertaining and enjoyable manner the truths of the Bible.

Mike Thomas wanted such stories for his own children so they could learn in a fun, imaginative way. Since he found none to his liking, he decided to write his own series. Hence "The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls" was born.

I don't have kiddies at home anymore, but I do have grandchildren and I do love to see Christian school libraries stocked with books that present Christian truths in a readable, fun, entertaining way. As I began reading my advance reader's copy of book one in the series, "The Beginning," I immediately saw that the writing style was easy flowing and well written using good grammar (no, this is sadly not necessarily a truism in children's books), and written as to assume the reader has intelligence and can comprehend.

The story method here is a bit of escapism and fantasy into time travel where they, Peter and Mary and the dog, go back to the beginning - the Creation - and..... well, you simply must read it yourself, won't you? There are 107 pages with a sprinkling of cute illustrations and the age 6 to 9 reader will surely enjoy.

Pre-order Book #1 or Book #2 in The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls & receive exclusive digital content. Hurry! Offer expires on August 8, 2017. Check exclusives & how to pre-order @

About the book: The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series follows siblings Peter and Mary and their dog, Hank, as they discover ancient scrolls that transport them back to key moments in biblical history.

In the first adventure in the series, Peter and Mary find themselves witnesses to the creation of the world just as God is speaking it into existence. Can they unlock the mystery of the scrolls before they get trapped in history forever? Children will discover the answer as the two characters ride rhinos, meet the angel Michael, and talk to a certain snake in the Garden of Eden. Riveting text and engaging illustrations bring this beloved Bible story to riotous life.
Happy author with his books in
Christian book store in Tennessee
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary advance readers copies to facilitation review and promotional activities. I was not compensated. Opinions are my own.

The Captivating Lady Charlotte (Regency Brides, A Legacy of Grace) By Carolyn Miller from Kregel Publications

My thoughts: It was a delight to crack the spin of this second book in the Regency Brides, A Legacy of Grace series by Carolyn Miller. The book is relatively short but certainly not short on enjoyment. Sometimes a story is seemingly endless as it nears or surpasses 400 pages. This delightful read is right at 300 pages and is just right.

The pace is gentle but does not drag. The story is gentle and yet lively. The characters perfect for the time and social standing. It is quite enjoyable to read how gentlemen and ladies conducted themselves in early 1800s English society. And it was very nice to read a bit about the lead characters in the first book of the series and their interaction with the Lady Charlotte family.

This is Christian fiction and a book that I could easily hand to a teen or a grandmother to read and feel comfortable. While romantic interludes occur, they are within the bounds of propriety both to the social era and to Christian morals. Simply stated, this is a good book and I am most certainly looking forward to the next in the series.

Carolyn Miller is an author to watch and await new works.

About the book: Her heart is her own—but her hand in marriage is another matter

Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility hen she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.

William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte's father's pick, not the young lady's own choice. And the captivating Lady Charlotte does not strike him as a woman who will be wooed by his wealth or title. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return--and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted. His only hope is that Charlotte's sense of responsibility will win out over her romantic notions.

Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace? Poignant and charming, this is another beautifully written, clean, and wholesome Regency romance from Carolyn Miller.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel Publishing to facilitate a reviewed which is freely given. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Justice Buried (A Memphis Cold Case Novel) by Patricia Bradley

ISBN: 9780800727123
Release Date: 9/5/2017
I found Patricia Bradley's second in the Memphis Cold Case series to be interesting and an enjoyable read on several levels.

I found the characters niched into their gender and professions. It was quite fitting that a 2017s 20 to 30 year old female, Kelsey the lead female, would be a strong climber. While this is not quite the norm, it is a growing trend among the young adults of today. Also, that she was a computer hacker par excellence. These two elements are major components in the story.

Detective Brad Hollister has just been transferred to the Cold Case Division which makes his former girlfriend come trotting back into his life. She really doesn't want a "cop" for a husband but perhaps considers a cold case investigator a safer choice. Soon it comes to her attention as well as the readers of Justice Buried that safe is not necessarily a word to use in relation to the cold case division's work.

A fairly light read that gave enough suspense, romance, drama to suit this reader.

I received a copy in a contest on the Library Thing website.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Bible Sleuth: New Testament by José Pérez Montero

My thoughts:  My grandchildren absolutely love these search-and-find story books and when the emphasis is on Bible themes they are truly a go-to product to acquire. In this new publication illustrated by José Pérez Montero the young reader (I think upwards to age 12) will enjoy searching out the hidden characters (shown in a sidebar). Each two page spread is a story with the text in a side paragraph briefly presenting the Biblical story. The pages are simply packed with humorously drawn characters. They seem to nicely represent the middle eastern individual in appearance and dress and are presented in a somewhat caricature style.

Cute young "current times" Mike is also frolicking amongst the Biblical times characters and Mike is wearing his ball cap and red striped shirt. Also on a funny note, there is a wheelchair and a kid on a scooter. What else can the reader find that is funny?

The stories include Jesus' birth and childhood as well as his earthly ministry. Jesus clearing the temple is packed with action. Then after Christ's death (not covered here), Pentecost, the apostles healing, and Stephen's death are stories covered. These are not usually covered in a young child's book and I found it refreshing to see them given this attention and gentle presentation.

Concluding the book is "A Crowd of People Praising God." This is a stylized version of Revelation 19:6-9 when God gave John a vision of heaven and of a large crowd of people praising God. Since no one knows what God looks like or what heaven will actually be like, this interpretation is as good as any. It is an imaginative interpretation and o.k.

I like these books because they grab the child's attention and he or she focuses on action that is coordinated with a Bible story. This imprints the Bible story in the child's mind quite nicely and affords future recollection.

About the book: Based on the Where's Waldo concept and adapted for Bible themes, Bible Sleuth: New Testament introduces young readers to stories about Jesus and the early church, while engaging them in seek-and-find activities. Perfect for young Bible sleuths, complete with activities that take readers back to Biblical times.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Tyndale Blog Network to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Weird But True Know-It-All: U.S. Presidents by Brianna Dumont, illustrated by Adrian Lubbers [Review & Giveaway]

Durable Softcover $12.99
Ages 8-12
ISBN: 9781426327964
My thoughts:  National Geographic Kids Books is debuting titles that are perfect for celebrating not only our country’s amazing history, but learning more about our founding fathers — and those that followed in their footsteps. Weird but true! Know-it-all U.S.Presidents is simply packed with interestiing bits of information about each of the U.S. presidents. Some of it is funny, some intriguing, and some basic information about their presidency. It is quite a treat to learn some of this hitherto little known information. Some bears witness to the greatness of the man and some bears witness that they were simply humans with flawed personalities just as the rest of us are.

While this probably wouldn't be considered a go-to source for research papers, it certainly could be a springboard for such. Also, delving into the pages of this book will most certainly whet the appetite to learn more and dig deeper into the recesses of history.

This will make super reading (to stave off the dark pit of the summer slump) during the summer and then a handy resource for projects during the school year.

I highly recommend.

About the book:  Weird But True Know-It-All: U.S. Presidents by Brianna Dumont, illustrated by Adrian Lubbers (ages 8-12, $12.99, June 2017) - What's so weird about U.S. presidents? Plenty! Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was a great wrestler? That Ulysses S. Grant got a speeding ticket riding his horse – twice! Or that Benjamin Harrison was afraid of electricity? And let's not forget that President McKinley had a pet parrot that whistled "Yankee Doodle Dandy" duets with him. Every president — from the 1st to the 45th — is spotlighted, featuring important historical information alongside vignette’s highlighting the oddities of each prez. “Extras” include an introduction that delves into the powers of the President, Congress, Supreme Court, an explanation as to how the electoral college works, a glossary, an index and even a listing of the Presidents’ most outrageous pranks.
Begins July 22
ENDS August 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic Kids Books and the author to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

KISSES FOR KINDERGARTEN by Livingstone Crouse [Review and Giveaway]

My thoughts: Often books about going off to kindergarten with reluctance focus on the child's inability to separate from home and family to venture into the strangeness and unfamiliarity of kindergarten. In Kisses for Kindergarten the vibrant Stella Isabella Harden simply has another solution - her dog is going to hold classes and her dog says she doesn't need to go. Well, that is until the end of the book when they both realize that her dog can't help her with books.

I found the illustrations to be lively and cheerful - well, alright, downright funny. The joy exuding from the pages is sheer happiness. Stella Isabella is a cute, active, happy child and young readers will fall in love with her.
The rhyming lines and alliteration are fun and catchy. Rhymes always capture a child's attention when infused with rollicking rhythm and lively cadence.
Stella Isabella Harden
contemplating kindergarten
declared she didn't have to go,
because her puppy told her so.
This is a fun book and helps generate interest in going to kindergarten and presents it as a good opportunity for the child. After all, who doesn't want to learn to read the words on the pages of a book?
About the book: School is about to begin, and Stella Isabella Harden decides that kindergarten just isn't for her. Instead, she decides to spend the day learning from her puppy named Buster. Together these two adventurers plan a day full of playtime, teatime, naptime, and storytime.

After every "lesson," Stella gets the best reward: a kiss from her best friend and favorite puppy. But will she change her mind about kindergarten before the first day of school? Join Stella and Buster in this lyrical read-aloud and uplifting story about growing up.

About the Author and Illustrator:

Livingstone Crouse has spent the last 20 years either selling, editing, or writing books for children. He's even done all three at once! So recently he decided he'd focus entirely on writing the kinds of books he likes to read, books in verse that are filled with heart, word-play, and lots of laughs. Books like this one. Livingstone lives in a large, 200-year old farmhouse in New York's Hudson Valley with his husband and a dog named Kat. (And you can be fairly certain that Livingstone Crouse is not his real name. But don't tell anyone!)

Macky Pamintuan was born and raised in Davao, a city in the southern Philippines. As a young child, drawing was his favorite pastime and an activity that brought him delight and satisfaction. Early on, his parents discovered that giving him paper and pencil was a sure way to keep him busy, quiet, and out of trouble. He still remembers the day when he successfully drew Mickey Mouse and Superman, a huge breakthrough and a sweet triumph. He moved to San Francisco at age 21 and in 1998 enrolled in the Academy of Art College to pursue illustration. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in December 2003. When not illustrating, Macky enjoys playing basketball, his other true passion.
Begins July 21
ENDS August 4 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy on behalf of the Silver Dolphin Books and the author to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Crafts and Recipes to Entertain Kids at Home This summer - The Lemonade Stand Cookbook from Burnt Cheese Press [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: This excellently designed and wonderfully appropriate book for children is a must-have. I would have loved to have it when my children were young. So at the onset let me say that I encourage moms, aunties, and grandmas to get one for their young folks.

Does it just address the budding entrepreneur who wishes to set up business on the front lawn? Absolutely not, though it has wonderful tips and instructions along that line.

This book is replete with a variety of yummy items requiring a sparse amount of ingredients that boys and girls can produce in the kitchen. Then not to be left out, the artsy can find several fun crafts to occupy and bring them a bit of creative joy.

The pictures are so beautifully done and the layout great. I love the happy children shown throughout the book. It simply speaks joy and happiness and exudes the possibility of happy times spent becoming a lemonade stand owner or simply making mom and dad a glass of cranberry lemonade or strawberry lemonade.


  • LOL (Lemon-Orange-Limeade)
  • Watermelon Agua Fresca
  • Polka Dot Blondies
  • Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallow Pops
  • Sunflower Crunch Balls
  • Hayley's Flower Pencils
  • Friendship Bracelets
  • Fingerknit Scarves
About the book: Lemonade stands . . . kids have been running them for decades, whether to raise money for a new bike, for a charitable cause, or simply to conquer boredom. Inspired by dozens of kid experts from all over the country, author Kathy Strahs pours her expertise as a food writer, entrepreneur and mother of two school-aged children into the ultimate guide to setting up your own lemonade stand. Step-by-step illustrations and full-color photographs of each recipe and craft make each page easy and fun to dive into. Find delicious drinks, such as Classic Lemonade and Cold-Brew Iced Tea, sweet treats such as Polka Dot Blondies and Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallow Pops, grab-and-go snacks such as Owen's Cheddar Chompers and Sunflower Crunch Balls, and creative crafts such as Hayley's Flower Pencils and Friendship Bracelets. Tips for setting up a successful stand, packaging ideas, cooking technique tutorials, and real-life "stand stories" from kids themselves are sure to inspire kids everywhere to "give life a squeeze."

Crafts and Recipes to Entertain Kids at Home This summer (find it on Amazon - click here The Lemonade Stand Cookbook )from Burnt Cheese Press.

(Limited Time Available)
Begins July 19
Ends July 27 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and freely given.

Monday, July 17, 2017

This Book Stinks!: Gross Garbage, Rotten Rubbish, and the Science of Trash by Sarah Wassner Flynn (National Geographic Kids) [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  The title of this National Geographic Kids' book is a bit misleading because the "book" doesn't stink. No, the book is about garbage that stinks. And we all know that rotting garbage is putrid smelling and no one wants to be around it.

Reading through This Book Stinks! is basically a journey of bold infographics that give facts - interesting and stunning, about all the stuff that today's people around the world use, abuse, and trash. The mind-boggling facts and images of the huge mountains of trash dumps and landfills cause deep concern to this reader. Designed as a book to inform and education young readers of the importance that acceptance of their own individual responsibility to reduce the production of waste in the world, it is still entertaining.

The pictures and graphics are great and so well done. The coupling of factual information and statistics that even a child can understand are well presented with text that informs in bite-size pieces easily absorbed.

Who will enjoy this book? Kids, of course, and parents will also become enlightened. I do advise, though, that constraint be exercised regarding the information on "dumpster diving" as it can lead to forays into some nasty stuff while the seeker hopes to find treasures to use or up-source.

About the book: Get up close and personal with a wonderful world of waste. From composting and recycling, to landfills and dumps, to how creative people are finding new ways to reuse rubbish. It's fun to talk trash when it's jam-packed with infographics, thematic spreads, wow-worthy photos, sidebars, serious stats, and fabulous facts. Also included are quizzes and activities to inspire kids to take action, be proactive, and rethink the things we throw away.
Begins July 17
Ends August 7 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review on behalf of National Geographic Kids. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Getting frugal with our pocket book and with the enviroment

The world is full of stuff. The stuff that makes life pleasant, beautiful, enjoyable, doable, workable, easy, tasty, and so much more. The stuff that we buy, make, grow, and bring into our lives to enrich it and make life as good as possible.

But stuff gets worn out, has wrappings that we toss away, has scraps that need to be tossed and simply gets replaced by more stuff.

But the stuff that gets replaced or becomes too worn out to continue to use or that we just simply don't want anymore, gets tossed into the trash container, picked up by the trash collector, and tossed onto the trash dump. Then what happens?
That's the story of stinky, mountains of trash. Its origin and its destination. But it is destined to remain in piles, floated down rivers, dumped into the ocean and swirled into the Garbage Patch of the Pacific. 
But we can each do a little to stop the piles of trash, and in the course of helping the world a bit this way, we help ourselves. We help our budget. We get to feel good about things.

So let's get frugal. Let's get into living smart. Let's do a few little things....

  1. Broth: You don't have to purchase a can of broth when you need it for gravy, sauces, or soups. You can make your own. Did you buy a rotisserie chicken? Slice off the meat and then boil the carcass (bones, skin - yes, the skin, and remaining bits of meat) with a bit of salt and pepper. Then strain the broth and save. Pick the meat from the bones and save for the soup you make with this delicious broth. You can use the broth and meat within a few days after refrigerating or you can freeze it for later use. And there is no can for the trash container! Another opion is you can purchase some chicken parts or the whole bird and boil to make your broth. Then you have lots of wonderful, tender, tasty meat to use for casseroles, salads, or creamed dishes. This way you don't have to purchase canned chicken with all the additives. And.... no can for the trash container!
  2. Bags: We all know about the reusable bags you take to the stores so you don't have to bring home the store's little plastic bags (or paper bags). Well, those little plastic bags are terrible for the environment. I feel so good when I remember to take my own bags to the store and use and reuse them over and over again. No, I'm not perfect and I sometimes forget them. But I am trying to cut down on my plastic footprint on this sphere we can home.
  3. Linens: If you have a sewing machine and can sew a relatively straight line, you can do lots with towels, sheets, and shirts that are wearing thin. Cut them down to use for other purposes. A towel getting worn in the middle? Cut it down for a kitchen dish cloth or a cleaning rag to use and reuse. Sheets getting worn in the middle? Cut them down and make pillow cases. A pillow case is just a strip of cloth stitched into a rectangle and hemmed at the open end. Just look at the ones you already have, cut a "pattern" allowing for seams, and make them. Or you can cut a large sheet down for a child's bed or a crib or just a light cover to toss over a sleeping child. Napkins can be made from bits of sheets or the backs of Dad's shirts that are too worn to wear. This way you don't buy as many cloth or paper napkins. You have a colorful assortment for the family to use and reuse. You've saved money. You've purchased less items. You've slowed the growth of the trash pile a little.
  4. Bottles: Try to use your own refillable water bottle. All those plastic water bottles that folks purchase in daunting quantities end up in the landfill. They just don't degrade. They are there and they stay there. Try to avoid them as much as possible. If you must use them, be sure you recycle the plastic.
  5. Coffee to go: Do you love your coffee house buys? Love to get that special blend as you're on the go? Some shops let you bring your own travel mug and they fill it (you purchase the drink). That way you don't toss another disposable cup in the trash container and some shops even discount you a little for not needing their disposable cup. To be a frugal coffee drinker, though, make your own drink at home and take it with you. You've saved money and maybe helped the environment a little.
Is that all? Of course not. It is just a start. There are lots of ways to live frugal and there are lots of ways to help manage the environment. You don't have to be a miser or "tree hugger" to do any of these. It is just good common sense and a caring attitude.

©Chat With Vera. Permission to use this written material wholely or in part may be acquired by contacting Vera via email in the side bar. The Youtube Garbage Pile of the Pacific was gleaned from the internet and used solely for the purpose of enlighting my readers and not for personal gain. Permission granted to use the written material can be granted by Chat With Vera and does not include granting permission to use the video.

Friday, July 14, 2017

If You Were Me and Lived in .... CUBA & Oh Susannah: It's In the Bag by Carole P. Roman [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 978-1947118485
Softcover $12.96
My thoughts:  The author has written extensively about countries around the globe introducing children to cultures that vary and yet prove to be somewhat similar. Just what is it like to be a child living in..... Cuba?

We explore the daily life, food, and special events of a couple of kids living in Cuba. It seems that the family in the story eats a lot of rice dishes. Of course their name for rice is different from "rice" and it seems they combine it with meats and vegetables. The island's history is touched upon and entices the reader to delve into the settlement of the Spaniards on this little island so far away from Spain.

The glossary in the back of the book is helpful with word or phrase meanings and proncunciation.

Another interesting introduction to world cultures by Carole P. Roman.

Abou the book: Join Carole P. Roman when she visits the exciting island of Cuba in the newest book of her informative series. Learn about the varied customs and cultures. Travel to the Caribbean to discover what you would eat and do for fun. See the country through the eyes of a youngster like you and understand what life is like in this exciting place.


ISBN: 978-1543034615
Softcover: $8.99
My thoughts:  The author's foray into early reader chapter books is interesting and provides more than just an entertaining story about Suzannah. It teaches that Suzannah, and all of us, can't simply tuck our problems away and out of sight just because they are difficult.

Suzannah learns to ask for help in solving those nagging and tedious emotional, learning, or social problems. The book is short with 34 pages but fairly complex for a young reader. Suzannah goes about her day toting around her ever-present backpack into which she puts problems with which she has difficulty - math tests, invitations, book report - so many hurdles.

The picture of Suzannah at the start of the book and on the cover are charming and you just want to love this sweet little girl. I would love to have seen the illustrations larger and sprinkled thoughout instead of tiny thumbnail images at the beginning of each chapter. I love the way mom and dad come to her rescue and help Suzannah find solutions.

I'm looking forward to more from little Suzannah and just wish this were a hardcover book so that libraries would add it to their collections.

About the book:  From award-winning author Carole P. Roman comes a new chapter book featuring Susannah Logan, a young student having a very bad day. It all begins with homework trouble and an invitation to a sleepover that she doesn’t want to go to. Would you want to go to a sleepover in a creepy house? Rather than dealing with her problems, Susannah stuffs them into her backpack. But how much can a backpack take? Will she be able to confront her worries before the backpack bursts? Or will she just continue to hide them away? Join Susannah and her friends in this story sure to charm busy young readers everywhere.
3 winners chosen to receive 1 copy of each book
Begins July 14
Ends August 6 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
About the author: Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of over fifty children's books. Whether it's pirates, princesses, or discovering the world around us, her books have enchanted educators, parents, and her diverse audience of children. She hosts two blog radio programs and is one of the founders of a new magazine, Indie Author's Monthly. She's been interviewed twice by Forbes Magazine. Carole has co-authored a self-help book, Navigating Indieworld: A Beginners Guide to Self-Publishing and Marketing. Oh Susannah is her first Early Reader Chapter book series. She lives on Long Island with her husband and near her children and grandchildren.

Her series include:

  • Captain No Beard
  • If You Were Me and Lived in- Cultural 
  • If You Were Me and Lived in- Historical
  • Nursery series
  • Oh Susannah- Early Reader
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author to facilitate this review of my own opinions. I was not compensated. Winner's copy is provided directly to the winner by the author.