Friday, September 21, 2018

Very Veggie 5-Minute Stories from WorthyKids/Ideals Publishing [Review and Giveaway]

Hardcover - 176 pages
Size: 10.8x7.8 inches
ISBN: 9780824956943
My thoughts:  Adorable! Just as fascinating and attention-grabbing as the original stories from a generation ago. My grand kids loved VeggieTales and learned so much about getting along with others and about the moral characteristics or virtues that they now as adults portray.

This large storybook comprised of VeggieTales Very Veggie 5-Minute Stories is bright and colorful using strong, primary colors. The characters (veggies - we all want our kiddies to love their veggies) are all the same as the original - bright, big eyes, great expressions, and rollicking through life in a charming and yet exciting manner.

The opening story has the veggies involved with taking a herd of cows around a canyon. But one of them wants to break the rules and cheat (it is a test, of sorts). They now have a choice to say no to cheating or do the right thing - obey the rules.

The illustrations are wonderful and kiddies will absolutely love them. The book is geared for the ages of 3 to 6. I can also see it as a fun read for early readers to pick up and enjoy.

A choice book to add to a home collection and absolutely a positive for libraries.

About the book: Silly antics, bright illustrations, and genuine lessons collide in this irresistible collection of short VeggieTales stories. Dodge-ball-wielding cowboys, pie-baking knights, menacing mops, and more zaniness will keep kids engaged as they learn values such as patience, responsibility, and loving others. Each hilarious story can be read aloud in about five minutes, perfect for bedtime or story time.
Begins September 22
Ends October 8 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to Continental USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Absolutely Everything!: A History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rulers, Robots and Other Things Too Numerous to Mention by Christopher Lloyd [Review & Giveaway]

 Author's goal in researching and writing Absolutely Everything "...accessible, interesting, accurate, and balanced for young readers--and adults too!"
ISBN: 9781999802837
Hardcover $21.99
What On Earth Publishing

My thoughts: Any individual or publisher that takes the assumptive attitude that knowledge about everything can be bound within the spine of a single volume is delusional. (Just check the qualifications of the author, Christopher Lloyd. He is certainly well qualified to write a book about history!) However, it is a catchy title and it is a kid's book. Albeit an educational and not fictional work, the author takes the reader on an interesting romp over the pages and eras of the history of the universe and our of own speck of a world within its confines.

Can the knowledge of everything be contained in this volume or even of any one particular aspect of our history accurately portrayed in any measure of depth? No. But we can have a sprinkling of information, and we can trust that the author is recounting historical information with as much clarity and accuracy as possible presenting as much detail as his publisher will allot.

What does he actually cover? Well, he takes the old Earth, Big Bang approach to the beginning of the universe or cosmos. So if you prefer the Young Earth or Creationist approach to our beginnings, you may want to approach this book with care. He then traipses through the perceived evolution of man and presents the more expansive approach that several forms of "man" lived at one time or another here on Earth. Each having distinctively different aspects that brought man closer to becoming the evolved man that he is today. Again, Old Earth vs Creationist theory.

Man at war. Man at genius. Man at creativity. Man at social living. Earth as a habitat. Much to learn and much is addressed in this single volume.

It doesn't answer all or even most of the questions about which one might wonder. It DOES, and quite nicely, open an exploratory portal of the reader's mind enabling him or her to reach out and further their grasp of our World and our existence.

Kids that love to learn will find themselves immersed in the pages reading about the time there were medieval battles where soldiers or knights wore full body suits of armour. Or the knowledge that abounded well over 1,000 years ago and even before that shows up in archaeological discoveries.

I remember my brother and I loved to delve into the many volumes of The Book of Knowledge (an encyclopedic collection of books published many years ago) learning of peoples in countries far away and about the stars, the Sun, the Moon. Bits of knowledge planting seeds for further discoveries. I see this single book, Absolutely Everything! a History of Earth, Dinosaurs, Rules, Robots and Other Things too Numerous to Mention, as one that kids will pick up on rainy days and read page after page and that they will also reach for when preparing reports for school.

The book is hefty and very well bound. The paper is nice, heavy stock. The illustrations are comprised of drawings and photographs. The book is colorful and interesting to look at. There is a glossary and an index at the end of the book. The Table of Contents at the front of the book follows a timeline of the Earth's history.

As I look at his goal (see above), I can say he is qualified for accuracy (his education and experience), it is accessible (a lot of information in one intensely expansive volume), and it is interesting and balanced in that there is a wide scope of areas covered. The book touches on natural and human history and provides a good overview. I don't agree with all the presuppositions, but I do think this is a pretty good book and is educational and entertaining. I'm a bit of a history buff and would have loved this book as a child or when my own children were growing up. I recommend it.

Begins September 20
ENDS October 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the book: A comprehensive look at the history of Earth, from the Big Bang to the ways in which we can shape the future, for readers ages 10–14.

Each chapter of this educational and entertaining narrative focuses on a different period and travels the globe from a legendary Chinese Empress said to have invented silk, to researchers figuring out how ancient Egyptian embalmers really got the brains out of dead people, to an African emperor on a gold-laden pilgrimage.  Then there’s to T.Rex, King Tut, Cleopatra, Genghis Khan, Rosa Parks, Malala Yousafzai, wars, climate change, conquistadors, revolutions, religions, computers, artificial intelligence, and more. Hundreds of illustrations, photographs, maps, and quotes bring the distant past to vivid life in “a riveting mosaic of exciting true stories” (Deborah Heiligman, Vincent and Theo). The perfect Christmas gift, Absolutely Everything will inspire a thirst for knowledge in even the most reluctant young historians, making connections and giving larger context to the isolated topics taught in school.

About the Author: Christopher Lloyd graduated with a double-first class degree in history from Cambridge University. He was Science Correspondent with The Sunday Times newspaper in London and is now a bestselling author of more than 15 books, including What on Earth Happened? The Complete Story of the Planet, Life and People from the Big Bang to the Present Day (Bloomsbury) and the Big History Timeline Wallbook series from What on Earth Books. A TEDx speaker, he is in great demand throughout the world at conferences, educational seminars, museums, festivals, and schools.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of the publisher and author to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is sent directly to the winner by either MMPublilcity or the publisher.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

My thoughts:  I always enjoy reading a novella or two focused on Christmas time. Most are joyful, uplifting, sweet reads. Not too long--just right to immerse oneself in for a bit of relaxing reading, enjoying a good cup of tea or coffee.Author Melody Carlson has written several and doesn't disappoint.

In A Christmas by the Sea we meet a single mom with a young teenage son. They have lost a beloved husband and father to the ravages of cancer and are trying to make it on their own. The story begins with them traveling to the coast of Maine to Wendy's grandparent's cottage home that has been left to Wendy as an inheritance. Her plan is to put it on the market and glean enough to pay her husband's medical bills and get on with the task of living. Her son, Jackson, is all excited and looking forward to a new beginning. He sees everything through the lens of excitement and newness.

Jackson is truly a character to love and appreciate his outlook and his ability to step up to the multitude of tasks and chores that come with making the cottage marketable. Only Jackson doesn't realize Wendy is planning to sell. He wants to make it his forever home.

Gracing the pages of this sweet story are several other characters that win the reader's heart. The chemistry that sparks interest in each other is slow to be acknowledged by Wendy and Caleb, a handsome merchant and resident.

You don't want to miss this sweet read.

About the book: 

"Wendy couldn't believe she was standing here discussing toilets with a perfect stranger. Not that he was perfect--although he was rather attractive. But he was obviously enjoying her discomfort a bit too much.

He eased the bulky box from the shelf and onto the floor, leaning it against his leg. "So . . . you're new in town?"

"Not exactly." She watched as he easily picked up the container. Was he trying to be friendly or actually hitting on her?

When Wendy Harper inherits her family's beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. Her twelve-year-old son Jackson sees it as an exciting new start in a life that has grown rather gray without his father.

Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy from Revell a division of Baker Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible, written by Doris Rikkers and illustrated by Fernando Juarez [Giveaway of 1 copy]

The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible brings to life more than 40 Bible stories that help readers understand that God’s Spirit has been with us since the beginning of time and continues to be with us today. From the glory of creation through the powerful letters of Paul, God’s Spirit is living in his people. Old and New Testament stories such as Adam and Eve, Abraham, Joseph, the Baptism of Jesus, and Pentecost come alive with dramatic illustrations and moving text! This is a special storybook Bible that will appeal to both children and parents alike.The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible, written by Doris Rikkers and illustrated by Fernando Juarez, presents over 40 Bible stories in beautiful full-color from the Old and New Testaments that show how God’s Spirit has been with his people since the beginning of time. 

My thoughts: What a beautiful Bible storybook. The illustrations are modern and yet beautifully soft. The artist has wonderfully portrayed an artistic essence of the Spirit flowing across the pages indicative of God's Spirit flowing throughout history and throughout the lives of the people of the Bible as well as God's people today.

Most Bible storybooks retell the events that occurred to people throughout Biblical history and do a good job of it. I have never seen one that focuses of God's Spirit and the involvement of the Spirit. We knew or know about this, but it has not been part and parcel of traditional Bible stories.

What a blessing!

The way each story is written in this book gently puts forth the basic information, people, and interaction of the story. But it is so beautifully written. There is a grace to the storytelling that is simply beautiful.

Each story begins with a Bible quote and reference that enable the reader (or parents) to quickly find it in their copy of the Scriptures. The version used is the NIV which will appeal to a large audience. I, personally. would have preferred the KJV. Those who prefer a different Bible version can easily use this Bible storybook as a storybook and read the actual Bible text from their preferred version of Scripture.

This book will certainly be a treasure for the families that own a copy. 

Begins September 7
Ends September 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to US and CANADA 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. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

STORM by Sam Usher [Review and Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

My thoughts:  Usher has created his fourth in a series of picture books on "weather." Rain, Sun, Snow, and now Storm. And as  with his others, the illustrations of Storm simply pick the reader up on a gust of wind and launch him or her into the Fall season. The abundance of colorful leaves scattered throughout the stormy pages is beautiful.

It is quite windy and the boy (same boy as in Rain, Snow, and Sun) wants his Grandpa to take him out to fly a kite in the gusting wind. So the hunt for the kite begins.

As they search through the house they encounter reminders of past adventures they have shared so they reminisce a bit and then move on along continuing their kite search. Eventually it is found and so off they go to fly it. This leads to an exciting up-in-the-air adventure.

A charming book of relationship between a grandparent and a boy, of adventures shared (what a treasure), and of a creatively overactive imagination. A fun book that deserves a place on library shelves of schools and lending libraries everywhere.

The real winner and story teller of the book is in the illustrations as they tell the story that words alone can't convey - a boy's imagination and desire to share an adventure with a loving grandfather.

A lovely hardcover book with shinny glossy red leaves on the cover and inside you’ll find the enchanting and lively illustrations by the talented Sam Usher. A sure winner.

About the book: A storm is brewing and the wind is picking up, so a boy and his grandfather decide it's the perfect weather for kite flying. There's just one problem: they have to find the kite! Their search brings up many wonderful memories of previous adventures together, and when they finally make it outside, their adventure really takes off!
Open to USA and CANADA addresses
NO P.O. Boxes, please
Begins September 18
Ends October 10 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate a review of my personal opinions which are freely given

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible [Storybook Bible] (Zonderkidz), by Doris Wynbeek Rikkers [Review & Giveaway]

God’s Spirit is living among God’s people. 
He always was, always is, and always will be.
These are the stories that tell about him and what he does.

The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible, written by Doris Rikkers and illustrated by Fernando Juarez, presents over 40 Bible stories from the old and new testaments that show how God’s Spirit has been with his people from the beginning of time. Keep reading to learn more about this new release from ZonderKidz!

You can also enter to win a copy of The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible and other awesome kids' releases in a giveaway hosted by Read with Audra. Details below!

Would you like to win your own copy of 
The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible?

Win a children's book prize pack from Read with Audra!

The prize pack includes a copy of:

Spirit of God Illustrated Bible
Adventure Bible Book of Daring Deeds and Epic Creations
NIV Kids Visual Study Bible
Explorer's Bible Guide
Words to Love By
Love Letters from God 

My review: What a beautiful Bible storybook. The illustrations are modern and yet beautifully soft. The artist has wonderfully portrayed an artistic essence of the Spirit flowing across the pages indicative of God's Spirit flowing throughout history and throughout the lives of the people of the Bible as well as God's people today.

Most Bible storybooks retell the events that occurred to people throughout Biblical history and do a good job of it. I have never seen one that focuses of God's Spirit and the involvement of the Spirit. We knew or know about this, but it has not been part and parcel of traditional Bible stories.

What a blessing!

The way each story is written in this book gently puts forth the basic information, people, and interaction of the story. But it is so beautifully written. There is a grace to the storytelling that is simply beautiful.

Each story begins with a Bible quote and reference that enable the reader (or parents) to quickly find it in their copy of the Scriptures. The version used is the NIV which will appeal to a large audience. I, personally. would have preferred the KJV. Those who prefer a different Bible version can easily use this Bible storybook as a storybook and read the actual Bible text from their preferred version of Scripture.

This book will certainly be a treasure for the families that own a copy. 

About the book: The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible brings to life more than 40 Bible stories that help readers understand that God’s Spirit has been with us since the beginning of time and continues to be with us today. From the glory of creation through the powerful letters of Paul, God’s Spirit is living in his people. Old and New Testament stories such as Adam and Eve, Abraham, Joseph, the Baptism of Jesus, and Pentecost come alive with dramatic illustrations by Fernando Juarez and moving text by Doris Rikkers. With a cover that sparkles and shines with foil, this is a special storybook Bible that will appeal to both children and parents alike.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
~ Psalm 139: 7–10

About the author and illustrator:

Doris Wynbeek Rikkers is a freelance writer and editor who has written many bestselling children’s books and Bibles. Although she loves the ocean, she lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, surrounded by her books, her flower gardens, and her family and friends.

Spanish artist Fernando Juarez illustrates children’s books and also works as an art supervisor at the Madrid studio Ilion Animation. The company produces 3D feature films for children. Fernando has three kids himself, and if he has any time left after work and family, you might catch him playing guitar in a rock band.

Want to take a look inside the book? Click here

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher to facilitate this review. Opinions in my review are my own and freely given. Book material and giveaway are provided by and hosted by publicist "Read With Audra" on behalf of the publisher.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Wise Essentials Firming Coffee Berry Serum and Vitamin C Peptide Eye Repair Gel [Review and 2 Product Giveaway]

Firming Coffee Berry Serum

My thoughts: While named a "serum" this product acts more like a combined moisturizer and serum. The product is thicker than serums usually are and yet quite liquid. It is not clear as most serums are and is a yellow tint which reflects on the turmeric and coffee included in the active ingredients.

I typically apply serum to a cleansed face and neck area and then apply a moisturizer cream. A two-step process. This Firming Coffee Berry Serum, though, seems to do the work of both serum and moisturizer. It does have some olive oil listed in the ingredients list. I am quite impressed with this product. It will most certainly fit any budget at the low price on Amazon of  about $10.

Find it on Amazon  click here.

About the product

  • Turmeric derived (Curcuma longa) that has skin whitening, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as providing UVB protection. Tumeric roots scavenges and prevents the formation of free radicals. It also inhibits tyrosinase, which inhibits the skin from producing melanin
  • Advanced Powerhouse Antioxidant Serum with botanical Vitamin C as the strongest - An indispensable nutrient for increasing skin care production, coffee berry is stronger than vitamin C synergistically blends with Botanical Anti-oxidants Coffee Arabica fruit and Vitamin C this potent formula of natural antioxidants with high levels of polyphenols and phenolic acids.designed to target the most common signs of aging and moisture retention.
  • Skin Glows, Firms and tones with a high concentration of essential fatty acids, sterols, and vitamin E make it a potent antioxidant that can offer protection against skin damage such as sunburn cell formation and DNA degradation
  • CoQ10 also helps the skin by acting as a strong antioxidant. that makes skin look younger. It helps to neutralize the harmful free radicals that are one of the major causes of aging.
  • Lightweight sheer, non-greasy serum that diminishes the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles by deeply hydrating skin cells & plumping skin tissue with a glow makes fine lines smoother. You will notice right away the glow.

Vitamin C Peptide Eye Gel

My thoughts: This is a thin gel/liquid that seeps into the skin around the eyes and renders a soothing feel to weary eyes. It only takes a tiny amount to completely cover the eye lids and under area of the eyes. I lightly pat and massage the gel into the skin with upward sweeping motion at the corners and area between the eyes to facilitate a lifting effect.

I have only used this eye product for a week so can't attest to the long term benefits. But so far it certainly feels good.

Find it on Amazon - click here

About the product

  • Best Vitamin C Eye Repair Treatment – For Puffiness Dark Circles Bags and Eye Wrinkles – Potent Effective Matrixyl 3000 Eye Gel Brightens Skin – Paraben Free
  • VITAMIN C – renews eye area and helps the appearance of younger looking eye area. This complex helps repair, renew, protect and correct the appearance of multiple signs of aging
  • HYDRATES, NOURISH & PLUMPS EYE AREA – Hyaluronic Acid mutli-action repairs skin tone, deeply hydrates skin • PREVENT PREMATURE AGING – Anti-oxidants repair lines and crows feet.
  • ALOE VERA BASE – benefits of healing actions of aloe vera

Face Serum & Vitamin C Eye Gel
Begins September 15
Ends October 7 at 12:01 a.m EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received both products complimentary to facilitate this review Opinions are my own and are freely given. I only recommend products that I have used and can endorse as being safe for me and/or my family to use. Two product giveaway prize is graciously provided by Wise Essentials and will be shipped directly to the winner at the conclusion of the event.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Day War Came by Nicola Davies, Rebecca Cobb [Review and Giveaway - 2 copies USA/CANADA]

My thoughts:  I have mixed feelings about this book. It is well written and the illustrations succinctly capture the essence of the emotions of the little girl and the reality that exists for those caught up in the ravages of war.

Essentially, the story is about a normal day breaking and a child going to school. Then the noise of war and the destruction and desolation that envelopes the child begins.

The fear, desolation, desperation of the child who loses so much and who is caught up in the escaping mechanism of the refugees and their lost existence.

While exceptionally well written and illustrated, I have doubts about the use of this story with the young child to whom it might be read (it is a picture book) or to the young readers who might select it to read to themselves. Is the darkness of this story too intense for a child? Of course, a child on the edge of a war torn existence will identify with it and comprehend. But a child in an area that has not been touched by the ravages of war? I think not.

I can see this story expanded and written for the teen or young adult, and then the darkness of the story of enveloping war could be used as a tenable means for them to commiserate with the plight of people in areas torn asunder by war.

Still, perhaps it has a place in a library for young children. I just think care in sharing it with the very young child should be exercised so as not to plant seeds of anxiety.

About the book: A moving, poetic narrative and child-friendly illustrations follow the heartbreaking, ultimately hopeful journey of a little girl who is forced to become a refugee.

The day war came there were flowers on the windowsill and my father sang my baby brother back to sleep.

Imagine if, on an ordinary day, after a morning of studying tadpoles and drawing birds at school, war came to your town and turned it to rubble. Imagine if you lost everything and everyone, and you had to make a dangerous journey all alone. Imagine that there was no welcome at the end, and no room for you to even take a seat at school. And then a child, just like you, gave you something ordinary but so very, very precious. In lyrical, deeply affecting language, Nicola Davies’s text combines with Rebecca Cobb’s expressive illustrations to evoke the experience of a child who sees war take away all that she knows.
GIVEAWAY - 2 Winners
Begins September 14
ENDS October 6 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA and CANADA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, Candlewick Press, to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own, alone, and are freely given.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

FIT TO BE TIED (Bucklin Family Reunion Series #2) by Debby Mayne [Giveaway - 2 winners]

My thoughts: Delving into this second in the Bucklin Reunion Series, Fit To Be Tied, took this reader on a "road trip" of family drama and tensions. The Bucklins are like no other family I ever met and I'm a Southern Lady born 'n bred. However, being different seems to be what the Bucklins are best at, plus arguing, plus having a heap of drama.

Their reunions are famous for miles around with non-family members dreaming of the possibility of an invitation so they can see this never-to-fail-excitement for themselves. The food alone is worth dreaming over.

The book is a lot about the ladies in the community and family getting fashion make overs at the local chic dress shop, and it is a lot about cooking and bringing food to brag about to the reunion. 

Each chapter is from a different character's POV and switches back and forth throughout.  This can be good or it can be distracting. I found it just a little difficult to keep track of who was who in the fast switches.

All in all, this is a good, light read that gives the reader a look into flawed individuals who work around problems and resolve issues. There is a touch of romance. No suspense. This is contemporary Christian fiction that is clean and wholesome.

About the book: Bucklin family loves each other too much to stay away. . . but not enough to behave.  

Being rich is fine, but when wealth comes from striking oil, it can make a slippery mess for a family who doesn’t know what to do with it. The Bucklin cousins are all together again, and this family reunion is shaping up to be another hot mess.

Coralee falls for the police officer who pulls her over. Sally has finally found a guy, but now she’s not sure a relationship is even worth the bother. No matter how hard Brett tries to avoid trouble, he somehow stumbles right back into the thick of it. And Marybeth and Bucky continue to fumble and bumble as they learn just how to handle being rich.

The Bucklin family is known for drama—and family drama knows no bounds.
2 winners - each win 1 copy
Begins September 6
Ends September 28 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Meet the Author: Debby Mayne writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women's fiction and is the author of more than 60 novels and novellas-plus more than 1,000 short stories, articles, and devotions for busy women. Debby is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce.

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. She was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so Debby enjoys featuring characters with Southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms. High Cotton is the first book in the Bucklin Family Reunion series.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions expressed by me are mine, alone, and are freely given. Giveaway copies are provided directly to the winner by Gilead Publishing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Sign Here: Twenty-Two Unofficially Official Pull-Out Forms for Dreams, Pets, Pocket Money, Feelings, Secrets and So Much More Paperback by Gabrielle Djanogly and illustrated by Adele Mildred [Review and Giveaway-US/CANADA]

My thoughts:  Ever had your child sit down and play "office" creating a plethora of official forms for various ones in the family to sign consenting to a slew of different deeds, disasters, and desires? I have when mine were growing up and the memories are sweet.

This book.... SIGN HERE..... is a collection of fantastic forms, declarations, invitations, apologies, and whatever that the creative and organized and award presenting child will have a fantastically wonderful time using for family and friends. You can copy them to your heart's content so they may be used a multitude of occasions.

Cute book, and such fun.

About the book:  It's hard to apologize. It's hard to say thank you. Sometimes it's even hard to invite someone over for a birthday party. This cleverly designed, slyly bureaucratic collection of "forms" makes dealing with these childhood issues a great deal less awkward and a whole lot more fun. Issued in impressively official script and language by the Department of Regret, Remorse, and Reconciliation, the Union of Childhood Revenue, the Ministry of Dreams, and other indispensable offices, these forms help kids say some of the hard stuff: "I've eaten the last piece of...," "You're the best sister in the world," "Thank you for buying me stuff I need," "Thank you for buying me stuff I don't need." And, because it's important to record even your most private feelings, there are forms to verify that one's parents are, indeed, aliens; that the surprise birthday gift was not actually a surprise; that you had a really scary dream; and other conundrums not easily expressed in person. Highly adaptable to meet the needs and desires of any boy or girl, these forms can be endlessly photocopied--and of course filed away by parents and grandparents for future reminiscences and chuckles.
Begins September 12
ENDS October 4 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity Group on behalf of Prestel Publishing to dispense my honest and herewith delighted opinion. Opinions are surely mine alone and are freely given. Said giveaway copy will be sent directly to the winner by MMPublicity or publisher.

National Geographic Kids: Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit; 2 Giveaways 1) a trip and 2) book giveaway (open to US/CANADA)

You've Been the Explorer Academy!

Welcome to Day #7 of the Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit on September 4th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Trudi and the Explorer Academy team, as well as 10 chances to win a copy of Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret and swag!

A Diverse Cast of Characters
by The Explorer Academy Team

Explorer Academy is a global school, in every sense of the word.

First, the teachers, most of whom were explorers for the Society, come from and have worked all over the world. Cruz’s aunt Marisol, who is Mexican American, is from Hawaii, like him. She has traveled to the Amazon, Nigeria, Tibet, and jolly old England, often sending Cruz postcards from the road. Monsieur Legrand, professor of fitness and survival training, is from Paris and has spent his life pursuing amazing adventures, like hiking the Atacama desert, diving in Mexican cenotes (underwater caves), and paragliding the Alps, and he was even once an aerial performer in Cirque du Soliel. Other professors come from Japan, Australia, India, and New York.

Then there are Cruz’s classmates. Only the best students are selected from around the globe. Cruz’s best friends are Emmett and Sailor. Emmett is Chinese Canadian, invents some of the most amazing technology in the book, and loves soccer. Sailor is from New Zealand and has Maori ancestry. She’s very competitive and Cruz learns some fun Kiwi slang from her.

Check out this map of all the places Cruz’s classmates are from:

Lastly, the school itself travels around the world. How does that work? Well, it’s on a ship, of course! Each class at Explorer Academy is assigned to a ship in the Academy’s fleet. Cruz’s class, along with their professors, set sail on Orion at the end of The Nebula Secret. Throughout the series, readers will explore new locations as Orion traverses the globe. See if you can guess one of the locations in book 2, The Falcon’s Feather, from these clues. Hint: It’s the home of one of Cruz’s classmates.
  1. This island nation is Europe’s westernmost country.
  2. Located where two tectonic plates come together, volcanoes and geysers provide most of the country’s electricity through hydroelectric power.
  3. This country is the smallest ever to compete in the World Cup soccer tournament.
The Nebula Secret is available September 4, 2018, wherever books are sold.
The Falcon’s Feather is available March 19, 2019. You can pre-order it here.


Blog Tour Schedule:

September 3rd — BookhoundsYA
September 4th — Kid Lit Frenzy
September 5th — Beach Bound Books
September 6th — Java John Z's
September 7th — YA and Kids Books Central

September 10thChristy's Cozy Corners
September 11th — Chat with Vera
September 12th — A Dream Within a Dream
September 13th — Book Briefs
September 14th — Jean Book Nerd

“A fun, exciting and action-packed ride that kids will love.”  
—J.J. Abrams, director of Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Lost and Alias

"Explorer  Academy  is  sure  to  awaken  readers’  inner  adventurer  and  curiosity  about  the  world  around  them."
—LeVar  Burton,  host  of  “Reading  Rainbow”and “LeVar  Burton  Reads”

Buy: National GeographicAmazon | Indiebound
Follow TrudiWebsite | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

Follow National Geographic Kids: Website | Twitter | Books Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

Adventure, danger, and a thrilling global mission await 12-year-old Cruz Coronado as he joins an elite school for explorers.

Cruz leaves his tranquil home in Hawaii to join 23 talented kids from around the globe to train at the Explorer Academy with the world's leading scientists to become the next generation of great explorers. But for Cruz, there's more at stake. No sooner has he arrived at the Academy than he discovers that his family has a mysterious past with the organization that could jeopardize his future. In the midst of codebreaking and cool classes, new friends and augmented reality expeditions, Cruz must tackle the biggest question of all: Who is out to get him, and why?

Readers can get in on the excitement with puzzles and codes embedded throughout.  

About the Author: Author Trudi Trueit is a gifted storyteller for middle-grade audiences. She has written more than 100 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction, including The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. Trueit lives in Everett, Washington.


  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret, plus an Explorer Academy tote, stickers, folder, poster and pin!
  • US/Canada only
  • Sept. 11 - Oct. 2, 2018

One lucky family of four will embark on a spectacular ship-based adventure, just like the students at Explorer Academy. Experience the remarkable beauty of Alaska’s famed Inside Passage on this thrilling 8-day voyage, courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions. Get up close to icebergs and calving glaciers. See orcas and humpback whales, then listen to them with the ship's hydrophone. Visit Glacier Bay National Park, learn about Alaska’s rich Native American heritage, and pass islands teeming with wildlife, including brown bears, sea lions, sea otters, and perhaps the world's highest density of nesting bald eagles. Visit to see a detailed itinerary for Alaska's Inside Passage Cruise. Enter here! ⇦⇦⇦⇦⇦

Calendar of Events

Join Explorer Academy author Trudi Trueit and National Geographic explorer and venomous snake researcher Zoltan Takacs as they discuss the book series and answer questions from readers. Trudi will sign copies of the book as well.

Friday, September 21, 2018: Greenwich

Hosted by the Greenwich Public School District
184 Hamilton Ave.
Greenwich, CT 06830
6:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 22, 2018: New York Launch Event

18 West 18th Street
New York City, NY
1 p.m.

Sunday, September 23, 2018: Chicago

1301 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL
3 p.m.

Disclosure: This information provided by MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic Kids for sharing with readers of Chat With Vera. Giveaway entered via the Rafflecopter widget is unique to Chat With Vera and the prize will be mailed by and directly to the winner. Other contest prizes are unique to NG.

Friday, September 7, 2018

My First Book of Prayers [Review & Giveaway - Cont. USA]

ISBN: 9780824916831
$6.99 Board Book
WorthyKids/Ideals Pub.

My thoughts:  This is such a sweet book and ideal in my opinion. The short little prayers are familiar to many of us as prayers from our own childhood or that of our children. The illustrations are sweet, simple drawings that capture those moments when children engage in talking with God.

The first prayer in the book is one I taught each of our five children. To me it is quite the essence of a child's prayer. The child asks, "Lord, teach a little child to pray." This acknowledges  (and teaches the child to know he needs to learn to pray) that God, the Lord, can teach him, a little child, to pray.

That touches deeply the heart of the parent as well.

Then it asks the Lord to "accept my prayer." The child asks to be "taught," to have his prayer "accepted," and he acknowledges that God "hears the words he says," and finally that God "is everywhere."

To me this set the stage for the beautiful prayers that follow. This little board book is truly a gem and will easily become a family treasure.

About the book:  With ten short prayers, this introduction to the act of praying will fast become a family favorite. “Now I lay me down to sleep” and other classic prayers show children how simple and reassuring talking to God can be. Each prayer is written in soothing verse and is accompanied by Gillian Flint’s soft and comforting watercolor illustrations. Newly illustrated and reformatted from its previous edition to better suit today’s families, this collection of prayers is a timeless treasure. For ages 2 to 5
Open Continental USA addresses
Begins September 7
Ends September 19 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by WorthyKids/Ideals Publishing to facilitate this review of my own opinions. They are given freely.

Swarovski® Element Necklace Blue Purple Color Changing Crystal Necklace for Women, 18" #sponsored #review

Girls and ladies love a bit of sparkle and it is always a joy to find a new treasure!

This lovely silver-tone necklace is unusual. The "silver" is Rhodium-Plated Alloy, Lead-Free & Nickel-Free. The Swarovski® crystals are not strung like "beads" on the chain. They are set in a curved bar that is rigid. This makes it quite different.

I can see this lovely piece as an elegant touch to evening wear or perhaps a fine dress outfit. Or it would be great at the neck opening of a white shirt under a jean jacket.
The chain has a sweet little pink butterfly at the end which makes the statement "gottcha going and coming" take on new meaning.

What is interesting is that these crystal cubes take on a deep blue color or a purple hue in various lights and even appear clear white at times. Quite unusual. I am just loving this pretty piece and can't wait to either wear it myself or gift it to a young lady in our family.

DISCLOSURE: This is a #sponsored #review meaning I received the product highly discounted to facilitate the opportunity to review it. Opinions are my own and not subject to influence. I was not paid for this review. #Womennecklace

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

National Geographic Kids ABSOLUTE EXPERT SERIES: Soccer, Dolphins, Volcanoes, & Dinosaurs [Review and Giveaway]

My thoughts: This hardcover series from National Geographic Kids Books for kids ages 8-12 is absolutely pack with interesting and authentic information gleaned from the sources that only the folks at National Geographic have available. Great pictures, superb writing that captures the mind of the middle grader, and expertise from in-the-field experts. At the start I'll simply say that I highly recommend this series to homes of inquisitive kids (and adults who want great books to peruse), school classrooms, and libraries of every sort.

Now about each of the books.... National Geographic Kids Book's new Absolute Experts series (ages 8-12, hardcover, 112 pages, $14.99

Want to know when corner kicks were added to the sport of soccer, or what the heck is a peduncle and what does it have to do with dolphins? Have you ever wondered about the mating rituals of dinosaurs or where you can go to explore mud volcanoes, subglacial volcanoes or the very rare lava lake? National Geographic Kids Book's new Absolute Experts series (ages 8-12, hardcover, 112 pages, $14.99) has all the answers to those questions and MUCH more.  Each title in this new series provides extended, in-depth information on high-interest topics that middle graders love.

What really sets this series apart is that each book features exclusive content from an expert in the field, sharing their personal stories, experiences, knowledge and a big dose of inspiration.  Throughout each book, the first-person expert perspective and extensive content are peppered with fun, little known facts and wow-worthy photography to keep even the most reluctant of readers engaged and learning. 

Here’s a brief description of each title and my thoughts on that specific title:

Absolute Expert: Soccer by Eric Zweig and featuring in-the-field expert Mark Geiger, a Major League Soccer and Olympic referee

My thoughts: Soccer kids will thoroughly enjoy this book. And "soccer moms" will find it a wealth of information to help them communicate with their child in this new language and life of soccer. I had a son that played soccer in high school and on to young adult teams in the community. Let's just say I failed him at being a "soccer mom" and having this book at my fingertips might have helped me understand this phase of his life.

The four chapters include: Playing the Game, The Origins of Soccer, Soccer Around the World, and Soccer in North America. These take you from understanding the rules and techniques of the game to the long history of the game. Pictures range from historic to up to the moment glimpses of the game.

This is a must-have book for families with a budding soccer enthusiast and for school libraries.

About the book: Mark Geiger is one of only two U.S. referees officiating at this year's World Cup. This book covers sports history, the latest gear, facts about little-known regulations, high profile athletes and so much more.  Professional ref Mark Geiger shares his personal stories of what it’s like working the Olympic games and the World Cup, how to train to be a professional referee and the importance of good sportsmanship.  Throughout this year’s World Cup, Mark has had to pull the yellow and red card quite a bit — and his explanation of how and when he uses them is fantastic.  Fresh off the World Cup and heading into soccer season, this title is extremely timely. Mark Geiger, just back from refereeing the World Cup, is available for interview.

Absolute Expert: Dolphins by Jennifer Swanson and featuring in-the-field expert Justine Jackson-Ricketts, a National Geographic Explorer and marine biologist

My thoughts:  We think of dolphins as those "smiling"  and friendly sea creatures that are in aquariums and sea world shows and that we might even get to pet. We think of them as friendly swimmers who swim alongside humans when they venture into dolphin seas. But we don't readily think of them as creatures whose family tree includes whales such as the Killer Whales and who populate waters around the globe.

This is a fascinating book that covers so much about dolphins and opens the mind to further explore from other sources.

Interesting fact (to me) "All dolphins are whales but not all whales are dolphins." (pg 15

About the book: This book has comprehensive coverage of all things dolphin, including all the different species, a nose-to-tail look at these amazing mammals, their habitat and behavior, how to study them, career opportunities in the field, and the importance of conservation efforts.  Justine, who studies rare Irrawaddy dolphins in the Gulf of Thailand, acts as your guide as she shares with the reader the work she is doing to save this species of dolphins whose numbers are dwindling.

Absolute Expert: Volcanoes by Lela Nargi and featuring in-the-field expert Arianna Soldati, a National Geographic Explorer and Volcanologist

My thoughts:  I'll admit that the very thought of being around an erupting volcano is fiercely frightening to me. The intensity of a stupendous eruption from beneath the earth, the debris, the heat, the force, the destruction are fearfully amazing.

After perusing Absolute Expert Volcanoes a bit I can see that aside from the frank and absolute destruction, that actual good can benefit mankind.

I thought the recovery from volcanic destruction would be hundreds of years. However, information in this book shows that recovery begins shortly after the eruption in the form of fungi that begins to sprout and begin its work of breaking down materials left behind and then new growth begins. Amazing!

Also, man has begun to harness the power of geothermal (think volcano thermal) to generate power. And even gardens can benefit from the ash left behind.

The book looks at volcanic action on an extraterrestrial level as well with information about activity on various celestial bodies.

About the book: The ongoing eruption of Kilauea has brought volcanoes —  the science behind them, their combustible beauty and the massive damage they cause — back into the headlines.  This timely title contains the latest information on all types of volcanoes around the world, which ones are in danger of erupting, and what it takes to get up close to study the science behind the eruptions. Arianna has done field work all over the globe and acts as the reader’s guide to these combustible natural wonders.

Absolute Expert: Dinosaurs by Lela Nargi and featuring in-the-field expert Dr. Steve Brusatte, a National Geographic Explorer and Paleontologist

My thoughts:  This is an interesting and well presented children's book on dinosaurs from how they are perceived to have lived and roamed Earth, what they looked like, what they ate, what they preyed upon or upon what they preyed, if they had scales, feathers, etc.

Finding fossilized bones and other artifacts relating to these  long extinct creatures has really opened the door of investigative study and answered many questions.

The  book has four chapters: Superstars of the Mesozoic Era, Here Come the Dinosaurs, The Lives of Dinosaurs, and After the Dinosaurs. Each of these chapters presents information that simply boggle the mind and that is because the existence of these creatures was beyond our wildest imagination. As the author says, "...reasons I think people find dinosaurs so fascinating is they were, in many ways, even more fantastic than the creatures we humans have created in our myths an legends: the monsters, dragons, and unicorns in old fairy tales." (pg 10)

NOTE: I acknowledge I am no scientist and the author and folks at National Geographic are certainly well versed in their fields. I do, however, wonder at the cause for the extinction of dinosaurs as presented in Chapter 4 as being the result of a "Mt.Everest sized asteroid" impacting the Earth in the vicinity of what "is now Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula" resulting in World-wide extinction of Earth and Sea dinosaurs. "Birds were the only dinos to survive the extinction." (pg 91) I don't discount the findings recounted regarding a possible asteroid impacting the Earth and do find the information quite informative and interesting.

About the book: Dr. Brusatte has named more than 15 new species, traveled the world searching for dinos and is particularly interested in the origin and evolution of dinosaurs.  Throughout this book Steve shares his stories, adventures, discoveries, and insights about his life as a paleontologist and the amazing dinosaurs that he studies.  Every page contains rich details and drills down into all aspects of dinosaurs —  different species, how they evolved, their behaviors, fossil science and so much more.
2 Winners will be chosen. 
Each will choose the 2 titles they prefer. 
The 1st of the 2 that respond after notification by Chat With Vera will receive the 2 books they prefer. The 2nd to respond will receive the remaining 2 titles.
Begins September 4
Ends September 26 at 12:01 a.m EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of each title from MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic Kids Books Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are given without restrictions.

Friday, August 31, 2018

SadoTech Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern with 10400 mAh Battery, Flashlight, 7 Modes with Mosquito Repelling Light [#sponsored #review]

My thoughts: The Sado lantern is such a great product. Designed for outdoor use - think - hiking, camping, overnights, fishing, boy scouts, girl scouts, outdoors men. But it is so much more.

The light has three levels of white light in soft, medium, and bright. It can be a "beam" or it can be a "lamp." Then there is an emergency light in red. This, too, has three levels of brightness. And finally it has an "orange" or mosquito repelling light. Here in my home state of  North Carolina we have mosquitoes that range from tiny and pesky to tiny and dreadful. So that mosquito repellent light is a real plus. You can use it at home in the house in case some got in through an open door or if you want to sit outdoors in the cool of the evening, you can deflect some mosquitoes with this repellent lantern.

A special plus of this lantern is the SOS feature. For anyone venturing out in the woods, seaside, ocean, lakes, mountains whether with someone or alone, they NEED the ability to project a distress signal. This SOS lantern feature does just that. To activate the SOS you simply use two quick taps of the on/off button.

The lithium battery can be recharged using a USB cable to connect to your recharging unit just like you would recharge your phone or other devices.

This lantern can be used as a flashlight though one with a smaller diameter would be handier. This is designed primarily as one that can be hung from a rope or branch to light an area or stood on end. It has a "hook" on the bottom that unfastens so you can clip it to the outside of a backpack or whatever.

I think it is designed really well and has sturdy construction. I am quite pleased with this Sado Tech Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern.

Product Details - from Amazon (find it at

Sadotech Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern can charge your smartphone and other devices via a USB cable. It is super compact and lightweight being 110mm high and 70m wide. It fits neatly in a backpack, on a wheel well, and most kitchen drawers.

  • MULTI-FUNCTIONAL - The Sadotech Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern can be used is a torch and an SOS lamp with a long lighting time of up to 20 hours. 3 brightness modes – weak, medium, strong -- can be controlled using 1 button. Unlike other camping lanterns in its class, it also has anti-mosquito and power bank functions.
  • EASY TO CARRY AND USEFUL EVEN INDOORS - The built is extremely lightweight shockproof. It can be hung on safety ropes or bags when climbing and backpacking. It is also convenient for home use especially during power outages, Halloween, and night time events.
DISCLOSURE: This is a #sponsored #review for which I received a complimentary or highly discounted product to facilitate the review. Opinions are my own and are given without coercion for a positive review.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Journey to Jericho, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls #4 [Review and Giveaway]

My thoughts: Summer of 2017 saw the launch of the children's series "The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls" which is Biblically based and highly readable for kids ages 6 to 9. Now Book #4 in the series "Journey to Jericho" is out and ready for great reading fun.

Written in a type of escapism the stories still capture the essence of the Biblical time and place and the actual persons and activities of the story being told. In "Jericho" we venture forth with siblings Peter and Mary in a bit of "time travel."

First of all, this is a far-fetched and fun story that places a modern pair of kids smack into a Biblical event thousands of years ago. They don't enter this realm as kids of that time and place; no, they enter as spies that help Joshua (remember the Ram's horn was blown 7 times before the walls of Jericho fell). They converse with Joshua. They have the help of the Angel Michael. They fight an evil man in black identified as Satan.

So you may have to help you child understand that while the Bible event did happen and did happen very much as it is written into this story, there was no Peter or Mary (or cute Hank, their dog) present to help matters along.

They are hidden by Rahab when she hides the spies from Jericho men coming to look for spies. Of course, Rahab really did hide the spies, this book just includes Peter and Mary in the adventure.

The reading is good and very age appropriate. It is an adventure with really eye catching illustrations sprinkled throughout. A cute book. I would advise parents, though, to be sure they help their child understand the difference between this one and the actual Biblical account. At the end of the book, there is a nice listing of where in the Bible to find the specific events. This is a real help.

About the book: “In Journey to Jericho, Peter, Mary, and Hank travel to the ancient desert—just as the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land. The time travelers join a secret spy mission to Jericho, help sneak Rahab to safety, and face the scheming Man in Black. Can they solve the secret of the scroll before the city walls begin to crumble?”

About the series: 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 exciting moments in Bible history.
Begins August 30
Ends September 10 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to Continental USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals