Friday, December 14, 2018

Fly With me: A Celebration of Birds through Pictures, Poems, and Stories by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple - 5-stop blog tour from December 10 - 14 [Giveaway US/CANADA]

Welcome to Fly With Me Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of Fly With Me by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Adam Stemple, and Jason Stemple, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from the Yolen-Stemple family plus 5 chances to win a copy!

A Family Collaboration
by Jane Yolen, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Adam Stemple, and Jason Stemple

Back (L to R): Jane, David
Front (L to R): Adam, Jason, Heidi
Heidi: It’s no surprise that when I put out the call for my mother and brothers, all the co-authors of our new book FLY WITH ME, to write something for this blog tour, everyone wrote about my Dad.  We all wish he was here to see it. He taught us to live peacefully in the world alongside nature. He taught us to watch and listen for birds. He taught us to respect and protect the environment. This book is about passing that passion on—to paying it forward. From him, to us, to you.

So, what was it like working on this book? How did we collaborate? Who did what?

Adam: Working with my family on this book was an amazing experience. We had already done one book together (Animal Stories), and we dove into this one already knowing that we worked well together.

Though we pared down our subject from all the animals to just birds, we still managed to expand the content exponentially. This meant a lot of extra work—mostly for my sister, who handled most of the editing duties. I mainly researched and wrote, two of my very favorite activities. I learned new things about creatures I'd been fascinated with my whole life, and got to write stories about them.

And as a bonus, I got to work with a group of clever, witty, and very talented writers who I just happened to be related to.

Jason: Photography is my career and long been one of my main passions. But coming from a family of writers, I always had a small (very small compared to my surrounding family members) talent for the written word.  It has come in handy over the years, especially as a way to sell more photography and break into different segments of the photo industry-many magazines only buy photography as part of a package deal with an article. For me, photography comes naturally, writing is much harder and a struggle at times. That being said, the opportunity to work with such an iconic brand like Nat Geo, especially as a nature photographer, is one I just couldn’t pass up. This was very much a family project, with my mother and sister, both amazing editors, divvying up the work and keeping my run-on sentences in line. And, sticking with the family theme I’m sure it is evident in almost all corners of this book that it is a tribute and a monument to the man who introduced us all to birds and fostered the journey that led us all here-thanks Dad!

Jane: I feel complimented every day when a book of mine written with one of my children gets published, and to great reviews. Each of them has well over 25 books out (not all with me!) Only the last two were National Geographic books with full family participation. But FLY WITH ME holds a special place in all our hearts as you can see. And I have no doubt, if he were still alive, my husband David Stemple--their father--would have written his share of it as well. Though he would have been the most difficult of the bunch to edit! I learned from him  to pay attention to the natural world. How to be attuned to nature. How to stay open to new surprises in the wild. Especially when looking at birds.

We have tried to put what he taught us into this book. Not only the information, but the love of birding. We hope it comes across to our readers. And that some day when we see a fellow birder—young or old—with binoculars raised, and we stop and say as birders do, “Anything interesting?” that we notice that there is a copy of FLY WITH ME in their car, or in the basket of a bike, or in a backpack at their feet. And maybe one of them will say. Hey, aren’t you one of the Yolen-Stemples who wrote that book on birds? And we’d grin and say, “Why yes, yes we are.”

Then, introductions satisfied, the one with the binoculars would point out the bird, which rare or not, we will tick off on our day’s list.

Heidi: Now you know a bit about how FLY WITH ME came to be, how we worked together, and why we are so passionate about it.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we do, no matter if you are a seasoned birder, a complete novice, or somewhere in between.

From our family, to yours.
The Yolen-Stemples


Blog Tour Schedule:

December 10th — A Dream Within a Dream
December 11th — Kid Lit Frenzy
December 12th — Christy's Cozy Corners
December 13th — Colorimetry
December 14th — Chat with Vera
Follow JaneWebsite | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Follow Heidi: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Follow Adam: Website

Follow Jason: Website | Facebook | Instagram

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

Enchanting stories, lyrical poems, stunning photography, and fascinating science fill the pages of this treasury celebrating the amazing world of birds.

This thoughtful and beautifully curated collection of our flying, feathery friends highlights the role birds play in human life from centuries ago to present day. While it's beautiful, it's also full of valuable real science about these wondrous creatures. From history and behavior to spotting and photographing, there's sure to be something for every bird fan in your flock. Young birders will learn all about migration and the importance of habitat conservation. They'll find stories about bird rescues and fun facts about the fastest, strongest, and tiniest fliers. They'll also discover the best bird nests, sweet songs to sing, ways to listen for and identify the birds around them, and more. Paired with stunning art and photography and beautiful design, this treasury is sure to become a classic for bird enthusiasts of all ages.

Fly with Me was created to help celebrate Year of the Bird, National Geographic's 2018 initiative to bring awareness to the plight of birds around the world.

"Yolen and her three children celebrate birds with a lavishly illustrated compendium of facts, photographs, and poetry...As is characteristic of National Geographic publications, the plentiful photographs are well-chosen and beautifully reproduced. A treasure for browsers and bird lovers everywhere." 
Kirkus Starred Review

"With text that never talks down to its audience, this makes an ideal choice for family sharing or classroom browsing." 

L to R: Adam, Jane, Heidi, Jason

About the Authors: JANE YOLEN is an author of children's books, fantasy, and science fiction,
including Owl Moon, The Devil's Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? She is also a poet, a teacher of writing and literature, and a reviewer of children's literature.

HEIDI STEMPLE was 28 years old when she joined the family business, publishing her first short story in a book called Famous Writers and Their Kids Write Spooky Stories. The famous writer was her mom, author Jane Yolen. Since then, she has published 20 books and numerous short stories and poems, mostly for children.
Stemple, her two daughters, her mom, and a couple cats live in Massachusetts on a big old farm with two houses.

JASON STEMPLE is an author and photographer. He lives with his wife and children in Charleston, South Carolina.

ADAM STEMPLE is a novelist and musician. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of Fly With Me
  • US/Canada only
  • Begins December 14, Ends January 5 at 12:01 a.m. EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: Information for this post was provided by the publicist and author. Giveaway copy is provided by same and shipped dirctly to the winner. Giveaway is unique to Chat With Vera blog for its readers.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Tell Her No Lies by Kelly Irvin

My thoughts:  The reader jumps in with both feet and hits the ground running as the pages turn at the beginning of "Tell Her No Lies." The author doesn't, though, keep up the rapid fire pace as the story progresses. A bit of a lag. That doesn't, however,  deter the reader from pursing this who-dunnit.

This book doesn't just tell the tale of who killed the judge. There are multiple murders and a slew of suspects.

Underlying the multi-layered suspense is the heroin's involvement with her photographic art and poetry that draws attention to the "homeless experience." She is a volunteer and supporter of efforts to help the homeless.

But this is not a societal issues propaganda story. This is a suspense with a bit of romance (just enough to call it Romantic Suspense). The "homeless experience" is a force from horrific memories in Nina's own personal life. The thread is woven into her very thought and experiences on a daily basis. She was a homeless waif along with her younger sister until rescued by her Uncle - the Judge that was found murdered at the beginning of the story.

So while the story lagged a bit and whilst it had more "murders" than I care to have sprinkled in books I read, the story was good. The detectives did their work and the case or cases were solved.

About the book: Combining romance and suspense, bestselling author Kelly Irvin’s Tell Her No Lies is a high-stakes race for the truth.

“A moving and compelling tale about the power of grace and forgiveness that reminds us how we become strongest in our most broken moments.”—Library Journal review of Upon a Spring Breeze

Even the most admired families have secrets to hide . . .

Nina Fischer carries a camera wherever she goes—so she can view life through a filter. Safely. After her mother abandoned her to the streets, Nina has kept people at a distance, including her uncle, who adopted Nina and her sister. Wealthy and proud, he is a good man, a fair judge, and someone many in San Antonio admire.

But when he is murdered, and the detective assigned to the case accuses Nina of the crime, she knows she must act. She’s determined to use her journalism background to find the real killer. The two men in her life want to help, but can she trust them? She’s known Rick since they were children, but now he’s an attorney whose political aspirations seem more important than Nina’s tragic loss. And then there’s Aaron, a news videographer; using their friendship could break the biggest story of his career.

Following the evidence leads Nina on a journey of discovery into her father’s shocking masquerade as a law-abiding, family-loving Christian. Unlocking these secrets could prove fatal, but it’s the only way Nina will ever be able to trust love again.

Combining romance and suspense, bestselling author Kelly Irvin’s Tell Her No Lies is a high-stakes race for the truth.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook Book Review program to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Christian Counseling in picture books for the young comes to life in the Good News for Little Hearts series

This a delightfully cute and sweetly illustrated series and children and parents will certainly love the illustrations by  Joe Hox. The critters that populate the pages of the stories are charming and beautifully drawn with a pallet of colors that delight the senses.

The text or story line is sweet and deeply infused with Biblical teaching that guides the critters through emotional mindfields helping them to understand reliance on God for help and control. The books are intentionally Scriptural and centered around Christian counseling.


Buster's Ears Trip Him Up (When You Fall) by Edward T. Welch and illustrated b Joe Hox

Buster is a bunny rabbit and he is a lively character that loves to run, race, and win. As he goes off to camp he looks forward to running the race and being the winner. But he fails and feels terrible about it. He is consoled and learns a lesson from failing to win.

Zoe's Hiding Place (When You are Anxious) by David Powlison and illustrated by Joe Hox

Zoe doesn't pay attention to the teacher and gets lost and is scared or anxious. Having done the same previously and been counseled by her parents to handle her anxiety or fears realizing God is with her, she gets through the situaiton.

Jax's Tail Twitches (When You Are Angry) by David Powlison and illustrated by Joe Hox

Most everyone has issues at some point in their life with anger and managing it. Jax's dead giveaway is his twitching tail.

The story is how Jax gets angry and how he learns to manage the anger with God's help.


The books are all a bit preachy but that is o.k. since the story line is intentionally designed to use children's story picture book venue to provide Christian Counseling. I think the books would be ideal for Christian school libraries, preschools, and Church libraries. Personally, I would take care about introducing these stories to children who do not exhibit these emotions or traits - anger, failing, and anxiety.

Find them at New Growth Press - click here 

DISCLOSURE: I was provided complimentary copies from New Growth Press to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

End-of-the-Garden Vegetable Mix, a treasure to savor

It's not the right time of the year to talk about gardens and the delicious goodies gleaned from those rows of veggies. But the thought of "end of the garden" pot of goodies came to my mind as I saw an advertisement from a major vegetable cannery touting their veggie and bean combinations.

During the gardening and harvest season, we cook our peas, butter beans, snaps, crowders, and corn separately. Even okra is stewed, fried, ,etc. But at the end of the season, a few of each of these plants refuses to completely die, still yielding a little bit of their goodness. Not enough for a pot of peas. Not enough for a pot of butter beans. Just an ear of corn. A few string beans.

You don't want to just let it those brave few stay on the vines or stalks to wither and die, yielding to the summer bugs that proliferate.

No. You pick them. Take them into the house. Shell, snap, cut. Wash. Rinse. And then....

You put them all into one single pot.

You season according to your preference. A bit of salt. A shake of pepper. Some fat - a ham bone, butter, or oil. And you cook until the flavors merge into a savory taste that you only get to enjoy once or twice a year.

It is that "End-of-the-garden" flavor rich vegetable medley that is so rich, so tasty, so undeniably good.

And it is a treasure to savor, indeed.

And that reminds me of life in general. When the summer of our youth and middle age is past. We lack the quantity of strength. We lack an abundance of activity and fruitfulness. Our yield is quite limited.

We have grown older. And are easily left to wither and fade into the existence of shadow keeping to the background.

But there is still wholesome goodness in us. We can still yield a savory goodness to the pot that is life. We are not all used up. So.....

Pick from the limited yield we have to offer and see if you can find there, too, .....

............ a treasure to savor.

Good Earth Beauty has lovely holiday products and offers a Discount Code when you order. Plus a Giveaway hosted here on Chat With Vera open to USA entries

The holidays are almost upon us and much gift shopping has already happened; and for many of us, there is much still to be done. The folks at Good Earth Beauty (online all natural beauty products shop) are working diligently to fill all orders in a timely manner. 

Holiday flavors warm vanilla, candy cane, cocoa and sugar cookie

It is a delight to cruise their pages to see the products available. They put together a little goodie box of samples and full sizes in products suited for the holidays and sent it along to me. It isn't really "on the market" as shown, but it gives you grand ideas for ordering for yourself or someone special.

Shop the Gift Shop on Good Earth Beauty - click here

And Good Earth Beauty has said we can treat one of Chat With Vera's  readers with the fantastic prize of a little burlap bag of five of their all natural, vegan lip balms. I use the Pumpkin Spice lip balm and it is absolutely fabulous. "Tastes" wonderful and the effect on my lips is wonderful. I can easily say this is probably the best lip balm I have EVER used

5 Delightful lip balms. My favorite..... Pumpkin Spice - Value at $28.00

Product information: HOLIDAY GIFT-LIP BALM NATURAL VEGAN SET OF 5: Vegan - natural -  soothing and moisturizing - helps heal chapped lips. Lip Balm Natural Vegan set of  5 fun, original scents - Candy cane mint, chocolate mint, vanilla mint, vanilla marshmallow or pumpkin pie! Comes in small burlap gift bag shown. Made by Good Earth Beauty - Ingredients: Meadowfoam oil, olive oil, avocado butter, candellia wax, vitamin E, natural flavor oil

Go ahead and shop right now and use this DISCOUNT CODE - HOLIDAY10 - which will discount your total order by 10% and there is always FREE SHIPPING in USA. Click here to shop

Little burlap bag of 5 lip balms, set value -$28 - Find it Here
Begins December 12
Ends January 7 at 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary products to facilitate my opinion review of these products. Opinions are my own and given only after using the product myself or a family member using it. I was not compensated for this product review. #sponsored

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

365-day devotional journals from Ellie Claire: Peace Begins With Me, The Earth is the Lord's and Everything In it, and Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Beautifully crafted devotionals / journals will help you turn your heart toward God on a daily basis.

Three beautiful journals that will take you through the entire year ahead. Each has a different "theme" or focus that allows the user to select the devotional journal that appeals visually but more importantly on the focus of the thoughts delivered.

Any of these would make cherished gifts for those on your list. Seek them out online or at your favorite store.

The Earth Is the Lord's, and Everything In It: 365-Day Devotional Journal (Devotional Journals) 

ISBN: 978-1633261709
My thoughts:  Each daily read begins with a Scripture selection and a titled devotional thought for that day. Beautifully written to lead our thinking and assist in our grasp of the Scripture, the text concludes with a prayerful thought asking for God's help to achieve the day's lesson.

These thoughts on our Lord's beautiful Earth and His being the Creator of it all are expressed so well.

After reading, thinking, and praying over that day's message the reader has an opportunity to use the few blank lines to record their thoughts, goals, and prayer.

This makes a beautiful (isn't the cover absolutely stunning?) gift for someone to use who loves God's creation - this beautiful world we live in.

About the book: A devotional journal exploring God's magnificent creation.

From the small whisper of a snowflake to the large circumference of a baobab tree, all of nature is the creative expression of God. When we embrace His creative nature by taking the time to stop, notice, and connect, our hearts are encouraged and souls refreshed. Respond to the devotions, add your own creative writing, or keep track of prayers on the journaling lines.

Peace Begins with Me Journal: A 365-Day Devotional Journal (365 Devotional Journals)  

ISBN: 978-1633262072
My thoughts:  A few years back there was a song "Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me....." A lovely song but really not expressive of the peace that is given to us by our Lord. In the Peace Begins With Me devotional journal the reader has the opportunity to mentally engage with Scripture and thoughts that lead to true peace.

The simple, uncluttered cover is peaceful and graceful and very classic. It exudes peace. There is such a lack of peace in the world and in our own lives. To seek peace and to find it is a gift from God.

This makes a wonderful gift for someone you know who wants to find peace.

About the book: We pray for peace. We beg for it from others. We make speeches about it. But in the end, the only peace most of us can control is that little portion we display for the world to see. If we are at peace, the chaos around us seems to calm down. Our peace affects others. And the Giver of peace awaits to give us the gift that can change our world. It begins with a prayer. It begins with me.

• Archive quality, non-bleed paper
• Acid-free paper and ink
• Daily devotional with lightly ruled space for responses, lists, or journaling
• Full-color interior design
• Presentation page for personalization
• Lay-flat binding
• Foil, ribbon
• Closure band


Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (365-Day Devotional Journals) (Lifestyle Journals)    

ISBN: 978-1633261808
My thoughts:  In this beautifully crafted devotional journal, the goal is to direct one's attention, heart, thoughts to Jesus.  This journal uses well crafted text and Scripture to lead the reader in the goal of setting their sights on Jesus.

What better way to either begin one's day or to end the day than to turn your eyes upon Jesus. This sweet journal can help you do just that.

The lovely rose floral design of the cover is repeated as small decorative touches inside the book. Pleasant to your eyes just as the joy of turning your eyes to Jesus is pleasant.

A lovely gift for someone who wishes to pursue a closer walk with Jesus in their daily lives.

About the book: A 365-day devotional journal to help you spend time with Jesus through quiet time, prayers, and reflection.

When life gets busy, it's easy to forget to spend time with God. This 365-day devotional journal offers encouraging meditations to help you spend a few moments turning your eyes on Jesus before your hectic day begins. After short devotions and Scripture for each day of the year, you will also find light journaling lines and ample space to record your thoughts, hopes, and prayers -- just what you need to start each and every day with the reminder that God is always by your side.

In this "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" devotional, the reader learns about protection from the storms of life that Jesus provides. "God is our stronghold - our rock, fortress, and deliverer. No matter how fierce the storm appears, we can trust in Him."
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of the three devotionals from the publisher to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Children of Jubilee by best selling author Margaret Peterson Haddix [3-Book Series Giveaway]

Welcome to the Children of Jubilee Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of The Children of Jubilee (Children of Exile #3) on December 4th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from author Margaret Peterson Haddix and 10 chances to win the complete trilogy!

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

One of the joys of being a writer is that it means I have a good excuse to do all sorts of random research that might otherwise look like a waste of time.

And… this is where the practical side of my personality kicks in and forces me to admit: Okay, actually, sometimes a lot of the research I do is a waste of time. But I usually don’t know beforehand what is and isn’t going to be useful, so most of the time I approach research the way a puppy might approach a mud puddle: I jump in and roll around, and some mud/information sticks and some doesn’t, and either way, I’m delighted to be there.

For the Children of Exile series—which is concluding this winter with the third and final book, Children of Jubilee—I cast a very wide net with my research. For past series and standalone books, I’ve gone into the research phase with specific historical or scientific questions I needed to answer. But for Children of Exile, I wanted to think more broadly: What makes humans the way they are? What factors shape civilization? Is violence an innate part of humanity, or only a learned response? How would somebody raise kids specifically to avoid violence? How would somebody design a culture specifically for the good of children, not adults?

Those are all deep questions, and ones that scholars spend entire careers pondering. I could have looked for my answers in any number of academic disciplines—theology? Philosophy? Sociology? Education and early-childhood development? Psychology? In the end, I found the most help in a field I’d somehow overlooked when I was in college: Anthropology.

Two books in particular made me think about the questions I was asking in new ways, and so now I’ve been telling lots of people, “You should read this, too! It’s really interesting!”

The first book was THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE: WHY VIOLENCE HAS DECLINED, by Steven Pinker. His premise was that, despite the idea many of us get from recent news coverage, we may actually be living in the most peaceful time in history. Pinker’s approach partly was to remind us exactly how violent the past was, through examples such as 1950s advertisements for coffee that essentially endorsed domestic violence.

The second book was THE WORLD UNTIL YESTERDAY: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM TRADITIONAL SOCIETIES? by Jared Diamond, which looks at lessons from societies that for various reasons have not modernized and/or have managed to stay totally disconnected from the rest of the world’s influences. The book did not make me want to live off the land in, say, the Amazon or the Kalahari—I appreciate modern plumbing, modern medicine, and WiFi access way too much for that--but it did make me re-examine a lot of my automatic assumptions. At times, reading both of these books, I felt like I was flipping my brain inside out, viewing the world in a completely new way.

I don’t think anyone reading the Children of Exile series would ever be able to proclaim, “Aha! I can tell exactly which books the author read while she was researching this!” At its best, writing fiction is alchemy—it’s more like trying to spin straw into gold than following a formula. It’s not “research plus plot plus character plus setting plus skillful writing plus lots of revision” as much as all that multiplied by a lot of intangible epiphanies that I can’t explain except to say, “It feels like magic.”

Once, years ago, I attended a literary dinner where I happened to sit next to a man who admitted from the very beginning that he knew almost nothing about fiction, and even less about books for kids. He made an effort, though, and began asking about the book I was there to represent, Among the Hidden. He asked what the book was about, and after I was finished giving a quick description, he mused, “Wow, it must be really nice, having your job. Writing something like that for kids, you wouldn’t have to do any research at all.”

And I was instantly furious. In actuality, I had done so much research for Among the Hidden that I kind of thought I deserved a graduate degree in Population Control Issues. I’d read everything I could find about the One-Child population control effort in China; I’d studied lesser-known programs in Africa and elsewhere in Asia. I’d examined graphs and charts showing population statistics across centuries. Did I cite a single one of those statistics in Among the Hidden? No, of course not. I was writing a book for kids, not a graduate thesis. But did I feel I owed it to my readers to know that background information? Absolutely. If anything, the fact that my book was for kids made me feel an even greater obligation to do the research and be as accurate as possible in my depictions. Adults bring both life experience and lots of previous reading experience to any book they pick up; for kids, one of my books might be their first exposure to a topic, and so I feel that responsibility intensely.

With the research I did for the Children of Exile series, I don’t feel that I deserved any sort of new graduate degree in anything. I didn’t feel that I gained knowledge as much as more questions to ask. At the end of my research, I was still wondering:  What makes humans the way they are? What factors shape civilization? Is violence an innate part of humanity, or only a learned response? How would somebody raise kids specifically to avoid violence? How would somebody design a culture specifically for the good of children, not adults?

But that was okay. The research gave me a foundation for passing those questions on. If readers finish the series also wondering about civilization and violence and the nature of humankind, that’s great.

My research will have been worth it. Sometimes wondering is an ends in and of itself.


Blog Tour Schedule:

December 3rd — Beach Bound Books
December 4th — Ms. Yingling Reads
December 5thChristy's Cozy Corners
December 6thCrossroad Reviews
December 7th — A Dream Within A Dream

December 10th — Book Briefs
December 11th — Chat with Vera
December 12th — Bookhounds
December 13th — Java John Z's
December 14th — Unleashing Readers

Follow Margaret: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
Kiandra has to use her wits and tech-savvy ways to help rescue Edwy, Enu, and the others from the clutches of the Enforcers in the thrilling final novel of the Children of Exile series from New York Times bestselling author, Margaret Peterson Haddix.

Since the Enforcers raided Refuge City, Rosi, Edwy, and the others are captured and forced to work as slave labor on an alien planet, digging up strange pearls. Weak and hungry, none of them are certain they will make it out of this alive.

But Edwy’s tech-savvy sister, Kiandra, has always been the one with all the answers, and so they turn to her. But Kiandra realizes that she can’t find her way out of this one on her own, and they all might need to rely on young Cana and her alien friend if they are going to survive.

About the Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin series, and the Shadow Children series. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio. Visit her at


  • One (1) winner will receive the complete Children of Exile trilogy: Children of Exile, Children of Refuge, and Children of Jubilee
  • US/Canada only
  • Begins December 11 and Ends January 4 at 12:01 a.m. EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLAIMER: Blog tour article material provided by the author and MMPublicity. Giveaway is hosted singularly here on Chat With Vera and books are provided by the author and MMPublicity and will be sent by them directly to the winner.

Tilbury Publishing's Kid-Friendly Dinosaur Tour of Art History and a Bedtime Book about Endangered Species - 2 book giveaway "If da Vinci Painted A Dinosaur" & "Mother Earth's Lullaby"

If da Vinci Painted A Dinosaur by Amy Newbold and illustrated by Greg Newbold

My thoughts:  This is a cute book and the little hamster that is the artist is perky and fun. Essentially the "story" is a journey through the works of various artist's styles and what their work of painting a dinosaur might look like.

At the back of the book, a short bio of the artists is given which is nice for families that expose their young children to art. But for those families that don't, this is just a cute story and the kiddies will miss the actual points of reference to artists and their distinctive styles.

Still, it is a cute book and one to choose to read from the library.

About the book: In this sequel to the tour de force children’s art-history picture book If Picasso Painted a Snowman, Amy Newbold conveys nineteen artists’ styles in a few deft words, while Greg Newbold’s chameleon-like artistry shows us Edgar Degas’ dinosaur ballerinas, Cassius Coolidge’s dinosaurs playing Go Fish, Hokusai’s dinosaurs surfing a giant wave, and dinosaurs smelling flowers in Mary Cassatt’s garden; grazing in Grandma Moses’ green valley; peeking around Diego Rivera's orchids in Frida Kahlo’s portrait; tiptoeing through Baishi’s inky bamboo; and cavorting, stampeding, or hiding in canvases by Henri Matisse, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Franz Marc, Harrison Begay, Alma Thomas, Aaron Douglas, Mark Rothko, Lois Mailou Jones, Marguerite Zorach, and Edvard Munch. And, of course, striking a Mona Lisa pose for Leonardo da Vinci.

As in If Picasso Painted a Snowman, our guide for this tour is an engaging beret-topped hamster who is joined in the final pages by a tiny dino artist. Thumbnail biographies of the artists identify their iconic works, completing this tour of the creative imagination.

Mother Earth's Lullaby: A Song for Endangered Animals by Terry Pierce and illustrated by Carol Heyer

My thoughts:  First of all, I don't hold to the theory or concept of a "mother Earth" but still can enjoy the story or pictures of endangered animals and the onset of evening and bedtime stories.

Each animal tucks away for the night and their rest. And each of the animals is an endangered animal. This presents opportunity to teach young children the fragility of the environment and specifically those animals whose existence is at peril.

A sweet book.

About the book: Mother Earth’s Lullaby is a gentle bedtime call to some of the world’s most endangered animals. Rhythm, rhyme, and repetition create a quiet moment for children burrowing down in their own beds for the night, imparting a sense that even the most endangered animals feel safe at this peaceful time of day. In successive spreads, a baby giant panda, yellow-footed rock wallaby, California condor, Ariel toucan, American red wolf, Sumatran tiger, polar bear, Javan rhinoceros, Vaquita dolphin, Northern spotted owl, Hawaiian goose, and Key deer are snuggled to sleep by attentive parents in their dens and nests under the moon and stars. Brief descriptions of each animal appear in the back of the book.

Begins December 11
Ends January 7 at 12:01 a.m. EST
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of each book to facilitate this post. Any opinions expressed in review are my own. I was not compensated for this post. Giveaway copies are provided by the publisher and sent by them directly to the winner.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A is for Australian Animals by Frané Lessac [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA - 5 winners]

ISBN: 9780763694845
Hardcover $16.99
Picture book Ages 7-9
My thoughts:  Usually an ABC book is for preschoolers but since this book features a different assortment of animals and critters than is normally encountered in the Americas or Europe and given the information provided, the book is more suited for elementary school age children. "Down-Under" is a different kind of place and the animals are unique to this particular part of our Earth.

Drawing of the animals and made more interesting by the nuggets of information that is provided and which is fascinating about these critters. For example the Platypus is one of only a few venomous mammals with the male having poisonous spurs on back legs.

The Sugar Glider  is a small possum that can glide through the air.

The illustrations by Frané Lessac are unique just as the animals of Australia are unique. The information provided about the  various animals is interesting and demonstrates their unique features.

Got a trip planned to Australia? Taking the kids? This is a great lead-in for the trip. Or if you just want to learn a bit about places different from where you live on Planet Earth this is a good book to obtain.

About the book: There are so many amazing animals to be found in Australia — and many of them are found nowhere else in the world.

Discover thirty-eight of the weird and wonderful creatures of Down Under — from the iconic kangaroo to the puzzling echidna; from the tiny crusader bug to the enormous saltwater crocodile; from the adorable quokka to the terrifying Tasmanian devil. Did you know that lyrebirds can mimic almost any sound? Or that an oblong turtle has the longest neck of any turtle in the world? Vibrant paintings and fascinating facts introduce readers to a wide array of incredible animals in this vivid celebration of the fauna that makes Australia unique.


Candlewick Press is generously providing giveaway copies for 5 winners
Begins December 10
Ends January 6 at 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA and CANADA addresses.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Searching for You (Orphan Train Series book #3) by Jody Hedlund [Giveaway - USA]

About the book: Despite years on the run, Sophie Neumann is determined to care for two young children. She won't abandon them the way she thinks her older sisters abandoned her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing 1850s New York is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. When the train stops in Illinois for the first placement of orphans, Sophie faces the most difficult choice of her life.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that haunt him, he's in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby train pleading for his help?

~~ Read a preview ~~

My reviews of Orphan Train Series:  With You Always #1     Together Forever #2
My review of "Searching For You" soon to come.

Begins December 8
Ends January 5 at 8:00 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
Disclosure: Prize for giveaway is provided by author and/or publisher who will send the book directly to the winner.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Nature's Paradise Natural Organic Baby Products brought to you by Good Earth Beauty online natural beauty shop [10% discount code]

Your baby is tiny, near perfect with beauty and tenderness on a grand scale. Now protect their skin with natural organic products from Nature's Paradise

Good Earth Beauty carries the Nature's Paradise
line of Baby Products. Check it out


My thoughts:  I know when my babies were tiny we used the best soap that we could find in the stores that was gentle . That was a long time ago. There are many products on the market today. This Nature's Paradise organic baby shampoo and body wash with coconut is fascinating and just chock full of simple organic ingredients derived from nature itself. I am quite impressed with this.

Product Information: 

Baby Organic 2 in 1 Foam Shampoo & Body  Wash is enriched with Natures most gentle Certified Organic  Coconut Oil that moisturizes and cleans baby's skin the natural way.   Protecting baby's skin from common skin irritations while leaving the skin and scalp rich with nutrients. Great Lathering properties especially as a body wash. We believe that when it comes to ingredients less is more. Using good natural ingredients is the best way to nourish and clean your little one.

8 oz pump - Made by Natures Paradise Organics - Ingredients: 
Organic chamomile Tea, Organic Coconut oil Soap, Organic Coconut Extract, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother Price: $14.99 Buy it at (don't forget the HOLIDAY10 discount code for 10% and FREE SHIPPING.)


My thoughts:  Many folks use baby oil regularly on their wee ones. Mine couldn't tolerate the baby oil that was then available. Again, that was a long time ago. Using a baby oil that is plant based and made from organically derived oils can certainly be good for the skin. So if your baby needs oil for his or her skin, this product seems to be exceptional!

Product information:
Baby Organic Baby Oil is made with skin regenerating Sunflower Oil which is rich in vitamins A,B, D & E which heals and protects the skin from irritation and allowing the skin to be nourished with vitamins in their purest state found organically in our oil. Safflower oil keeps skin hydrated giving relief from dry flaky skin and also has protection properties from environmental exposures. Great for dry skin, eczema and cradle cap when directly applied or added to the bath water.

4 oz - Made by Natures Paradise - Ingredients: Organic Sunflower oil Organic Coconut Extract, Organic Safflower oil, Price: $12.99 Buy it at  (Don't forget the HOLIDAY10 discount code for 10% and FREE SHIPPING.)

Shop Good Earth Beauty for anything and use the discount code HOLIDAY10 for a 10% discount code. Good until Dec. 31, 2018. Get a gift for mom a gift for baby. Get a gift for you!

DISCLOSURE: I was provided these two products by to facilitate this review and product information post. Opinions expressed are mine alone and are freely given. While I have no baby in my household, I will share these products with a family member.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bring God to the core of your child's thinking: GOD COUNTS and GOD MADE ME AND YOU from New Growth Press

GOD COUNTS by Irene Sun

ISBN: 9781945270796
Purchase on Amazon
My thoughts: This is NOT your typical counting book for the little ones. This book presents deep, theological ideas wrapped up in the beauty of numbers. It doesn't entail mathematics, yet states that the Maker of the Universe, God, created numbers and that they declare His glory. Yes, all of creation declares the glory of the Creator, God.

Information that is usually gleaned from sermons or Bible studies such as their being four rivers in the Garden of Eden, four wings on every butterfly, and four creatures before God's throne saying, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!" will enrich the parents reading aloud this interesting children's book.

"Six tells us God hates sin..... 'Here are six things that the Lord hates. unkind eyes, a lying tongue, hands that hurt, a wicked heart, disobedient feet, and lies that separate people.' Proverbs 6:16-19

The book is definitely for those who wish to give their children deeper ideas to think about. It goes far beyond the typical kiddie counting book. While it is a "picture book" the text, scope of thoughts, and theology don't fit a picture book pattern.

I can highly recommend the book. That recommendation is, however given with the caveat that the book is not to be skimmed over, quickly read and tossed in the book heap. It is to be delved into thoroughly and with each reading pursue further discussions about the implications of these ideas.

Product Description

In this engaging, illustrated children's book by Irene Sun, young readers learn how numbers declare the glory of God, discovering Bible stories and the truth, beauty, and goodness of our sovereign God through numbers and patterns. With countable illustrations and an easy-to-learn structure, children who are always seeking, finding, tracing, and counting numbers will be captivated by God Counts.

Through simple language kids will understand, God Counts shares theological truths and helps children become familiar with Scripture, exploring the patterns of creation, numbers in the plan of redemption, and the intimacy of a personal relationship with God. This children's book explores how God counts every fish in the sea, every star in the sky, every hair on their heads, and every tear in their eyes.

By discovering numbers in God's world and in his Word, parents help their children foster a deeper love and knowledge of who God is and how he counts them as his. Families will be enriched as they learn together how numbers magnify God - just as a telescope magnifies the stars - and each numbered lesson points to a larger redemptive story of Scripture. On each page, the illustrations engage readers, displaying not only a picture but a mosaic of patterns.

This playful children's book serves as a beginner's theology book for young readers who love numbers and patterns, introducing the Trinity, the God of order, the holiness of God, the problem of sin, the rescue and love of Jesus, and much more. Children who love to count will be filled with wonder, leading them to understand deeper truths about God, themselves, and the world around them.


ISBN: 9781948130134
Purchase on Amazon

My thoughts:  First of all, the concept of this book is much needed and children - and adults - need to acknowledge that God is the Creator of each and everyone. And He designed just how each of us is made. And that we are all equal in His eyes.

In God Made Me and You the setting is obviously a Christian school classroom. That, therefore, limits readers to a smaller demographic. Homeschooling and public school families won't be able to internalize the concept of such a classroom, the Biblical quotes and lesson for the day. Secular books abound with the subject of diversity education and that is a good thing. It is also a good thing for children from Christian families to understand diversity acceptance and to understand it from a Biblical point of view.

All that being said, the book nicely addresses children learning to accept people of diverse complexities - dark skin, yellow skin, white skin, and disabilities in body, vision, hearing.

The book is lengthy and includes the origin of sin in the Garden of Eden. The story further relates that the behavior of hatred of others based on race or ethnicity as sin. The story continues with the solution of the sin as being provided when God sent Jesus to die for the sins of mankind.

This is heavy information for the young listener and the extent of material covered broad. Although a picture book, it is probably best as a read-aloud. All the concepts are good and Biblical.

I can recommend the book but that recommendation is based on parent use with the child or children.

Product Description

This beautifully illustrated children's book invites kids to explore God's design for ethnic diversity and challenges readers---both parents and children---to learn and live out counter-cultural, biblical views, fostering a lifelong celebration of diversity for the glory of God. Designed for four- to eleven-year-olds, God Made Me and You by Shai Linne is the second book in the God Made Me series, starting with God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb.
Because Scripture teaches that ethnic diversity is not something that should be tolerated but rather enthusiastically embraced, Christian hip hop artist Shai Linne helps children, parents, and caregivers to celebrate this biblical truth through a lyrical, rhyming style and colorful illustrations.

God Made Me and You is an approachable guide for families to begin conversations about cultivating a God's perspective on ethnic diversity, confronting the sins of racism, bigotry, and ethnic pride.

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review from New Growth Press. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hana Ylang Ylang Essential Oil - 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade for Aromatherapy Diffuser #sponsored #review

My thoughts: Hana Ylang Ylang Essential Oil - 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade for Aromatherapy Diffuser works nicely in my diffuser. The first use, I put about four drops into the diffuser. Nice, but a mite strong.

Next time, I used about three drops and a couple of sweetorange. Better. I enjoyed it.

Next time, I used about two drops Hana Ylang Ylang, a drop of sweetorange, and a drop of Rose Geranium. This was very nice. I also enjoy combining it with just Rose Geranium for a relaxing scent.

Purchase it on Amazon - CLICK HERE

Product information: 
What is Ylang Ylang Essential Oil? Ylang Ylang essential oil serves as a natural health booster against severe stress and tension issues. An effective solution for both oily scalp and dry skin. Apply a few drops to shampoo, bath, massage oil and diffuser.

Key Benefits:

  • Induce relaxation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Balance sebum on both scalp and skin

Blending: Lavender, Bergamot, Geranium, Vetiver, Chamomile, Clary sage, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Neroli and Jasmine essential oil.

Quality: 100% PURE & THERAPEUTIC - undiluted, no fillers, bases or additives. Distillation facility is GMP, ISO9001 & FDA registered.

DISCLOSURE: This is a #sponsored #review which means I received the product either at no cost to me or highly discounted. I was not compensated for this review. Opinions are mine alone and given after personal use of product.

Monday, December 3, 2018

New Growth Press’ Spirit of Giving Family Devotionals [7-book Giveaway with 3 winners - USA/CANADA]

New Growth Press’ Spirit of Giving Family Devotionals Giveaway
For active families, reading the Bible together can feel overwhelming. However, family Bible study doesn’t have to be complicated! With just ten minutes a day, parents have enough time to pass on the most valuable treasure the world has ever known.

Start off the new year resolved to study the Bible together. New Growth Press has you covered and is giving away a family devotional package every family will want to win!

In this third and final Spirit of Giving giveaway of the Christmas season, New Growth Press is giving away THREE gift boxes of family devotionals (retail value of $148 each). From December 3-8, you can enter to win one of family devotional boxes.

Each gift box includes one copy of the following family devotionals written by Marty Machowski:

Children love stories, and the parables provide a wonderful opportunity to engage their imagination and help them understand and live out the good news of the kingdom of God. After teaching a parable, Jesus often said, “Whoever has ears, let him hear.” In other words, “This is important, so you better listen up,” and what could be more important than the good news of the kingdom of God? This family devotional provides a unique opportunity for parents to help their children “listen up” and hear the gospel as Jesus himself shared it.

Wise Up is designed to connect the teaching of Proverbs to God’s larger story of salvation. Children will learn that Solomon’s wisdom, life, and failures all point to “something greater than Solomon”—they point to Jesus. The goal of this devotional is to present the wisdom of Proverbs against the backdrop of the gospel to show children that real wisdom comes only as we depend on Jesus for daily help and forgiveness.

Long Story Short guides families through the Old Testament stories and is designed to cultivate honest and powerful discussion about the Bible, which is the catalyst for change in children’s lives. Through 78 Old Testament stories, Long Story Short explains God’s plan of salvation through the Old Testament, focusing on the hero of Scripture and important biblical truths without being corny, confusing, or condescending.

Suited for children from preschool through high school, this gospel-focused book is full of ten-minute devotions to continue the gospel story that began in Long Story Short. The consistent and short structure helps children walk through the life-changing truths of the Christian faith in the New Testament—without overwhelming them. Through 78 New Testament stories, Old Story New does the hard work for moms and dads. Simple discussion questions (and answers!) for each day’s devotion help children understand and connect with Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, and the birth of the Christian church.
This beautifully illustrated storybook captivates young readers with the heart of the gospel. The Gospel Story Bible points to Jesus, helping families and kids identify Christ as the hero of every story. While it’s easy to forget Jesus in the midst of frantic schedules, family squabbles, and conflicting priorities, Machowski reminds families of God’s plan of salvation in Christ, which is continually on display throughout the Bible. Ideal as a storybook for your preschooler, a devotional for your grade school student, a refresher for the adult believer, or an introduction for the new one, The Gospel Story Bible is also a companion to Long Story Short and Old Story New.

In addition to these books for the entire family, the winners will also receive a new book of devotionals just for parents, and New Growth Press’ latest parenting book.

In this uplifting and faith-strengthening devotional book for parents, Marty Machowski encourages parents in the midst of trials. Full of Scripture, testimonies of faithful parents, and insightful meditations, Parenting First Aid equips moms and dads to run to God and trust his ability to do what they can’t. The easy-to-use format provides encouragement to turn to God in the midst of family difficulty. While God does not promise happiness and ease in parenting, all can find comfort in God and peace beyond understanding through the Scriptures and meditations found in Parenting First Aid.

Every family is unique, which is why Child Proof explores the need for parents to cultivate personal and intimate care for their children as modeled in God’s individual, personal, and fatherly care to his children. This child-rearing book lays a foundation of parenting by faith and progresses by teaching readers how they can know their own kids well and raise them accordingly. By discussing particular issues moms and dads might have in family life, Lowe demonstrates how formulas aren’t the answer, and parenting with biblical wisdom is best for a proactive rather than reactive approach to parenting.

NOTE: In case you don’t win the prize pack, sign-up for New Growth Press’ e-news at to receive information about their Countdown to Christmas discounts so that you can order copies. Be sure to follow them on social media as well where they will be sharing daily deals throughout the Christmas season ( | |

DISCLOSURE: The information and material for this post was provided by Read With Audra. I received no compensation to share this information.