Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Biblical Beauty: Ancient Secrets and Modern Solutions Paperback by Rachelle Weisberger {Review & Giveaway}

ISBN 13: 9780983558514
About the book: Biblical Beauty looks at what makes us beautiful in a new light--by integrating biblical, historical and cultural perspectives on female beauty with a modern sensibility, supplemented with practical advice and user-friendly tips.

You'll find fresh insights on skin care, sun care, makeup, hair care, healthy aging, motherhood and feminine leadership.

Rachelle Weisberger unmasks the timeless beauty that is not limited to physical features or chronological age. Rather, as you will discover, it is multifaceted and all-encompassing. Biblical beauty resonates throughout the entire body and radiates physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
This informative and entertaining book also presents the women of the Hebrew Bible: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Miriam, Rahab, Deborah, Bathsheba and Esther as well as Judith of the Apocrypha. Their stories serve as springboards to introduce timely topics and to explore the underlying relationship between their physical attributes and hidden inner qualities, interwoven with their spirituality.

By combining ancient secrets with modern solutions, Biblical Beauty, will guide you toward empowerment, renewal and a daily celebration of beauty in your own life.
"Chat" with the author: 
1. What prompted you as a cosmetologist to pursue writing this book referencing the Bible as a source of beautification secrets?
As a cosmetologist working in the beauty industry for more than two decades, I listened to the nagging fears and self-doubts women expressed about their looks. These days, women are often driven to extreme measures to keep their skin smooth and their bodies taut. I felt it was time to filter out the cultural noise--from beauty magazines, celebrity endorsements, and Internet sites--that can make us feel inferior and very old. My purpose in writing BIBLICAL BEAUTY was to present an alternative to our modern-day obsession that focuses solely on physical perfection and youthfulness.
I was searching for a way to present a more holistic model--one that would reflect not only our physical side, but the unique connection between the mind, body, and spirit. To my great surprise, my first inspirational role model in the Bible became apparent one Sabbath morning in synagogue when I read in Genesis 23:1, "And Sarah lived 127 years." Her life and longevity intrigued me. There had to be so much more to learn about her as a woman. I couldn't help wondering, How did she do it? What did she eat? Drink? How did she keep physically fit? Along the way I discovered other remarkable biblical women who were renowned for their alluring looks. But, in fact, their attractiveness also came from a source within that was rooted in a purposeful life.

2. How did you go about researching and writing Biblical Beauty?

BIBLICAL BEAUTY explores its subject from a biblical, historical, and cultural perspective. I spent years researching the beauty practices and lifestyles of the ancient civilizations including Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Fertile Crescent. I consulted biblical scholars, commentaries, and legends for a deeper look into the personalities of biblical women. Their lives serve as springboards to timely topics including skin care, sun care, makeup hair care, fragrance, healthy aging motherhood, and leadership. Reading the Scriptures and historical texts, and viewing ancient artifacts, provided the proof that women in ancient times placed great importance on their physical appearance. And although female beauty was acknowledged and praised in the Bible, it was always evaluated in the context of behavior and piety. 

3. How can the tips and topics in Biblical Beauty really and truly relate to women of today?

Remarkably, the natural beauty solutions employed thousands of years ago were forerunners of the techniques and treatments that are still popular today. More than a practical manual of self-beautification, BIBLICAL BEAUTY also explores the inner qualities of several of these women through their compelling life stories. As role models, they become an inspiring compass to create a meaningful and satisfying life. These women are proof that beauty is a reflection of our innermost qualities and the gift of a healthy way of life. They showed that nutritious diet, daily physical activity, loving relationships, meaningful lives, and a connection with the Divine can be seamlessly blended to nourish the body and soul. Whether a women has spent her life managing home and children or working at the highest rungs of a corporation or perhaps doing both at the same time, studies emerge everyday providing evidence that these practices are all key to a long life. And it is never too late to incorporate them. 
My thoughts:  My grandmother spoke often of "pretty is as pretty does" and "She is pretty from the inside out" both of which are referring to having an inner beauty. Rachelle Weisberger quickly recognizes that beauty comes from within - a healthy body and spirit.

I am fully aware that Ms. Weisberger is Jewish and the book draws from Old Testament Bible as well as other historical Jewish writings. I am a Christian and long years of attending church and Sunday school have lent itself to familiarity with various strong women of the Bible. Rachel Weisberger brings these women to life for us and also makes us aware of their beauty.

Each chapter examines a woman from the Old Testament of the Bible - Bathsheba, Deborah, Rahab, Judith (from another ancient writing), Esther, Rebecca, and Sarah. After looking at these honored women and their own beauty and lives, our author presents an area of modern solutions to making oneself beautiful:  Makeup, Hair Care, Fragrance, Jewelry (outward adornment), and Healthy Aging. In the second section of the book, the author examines the inner woman and inner beauty and how these are defined in motherhood and being a feminine leader.

She writes with an easy flowing style that is organized and pleasant to follow. This is not a lengthy book but it is one that would be well-placed on the home or library book shelf. I found this a wonderful book. Rachelle is an extensively experienced and talented woman in her chosen fields.

GIVEAWAY: The author, Rachelle Weisberger, is graciously providing one of Chat With Vera's readers an opportunity to have their very own copy of Biblical Beauty. Begins December 31 & ENDS January 21. Open to USA addresses only.
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You can read a bit on the Amazon page - click here
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The good Rat: Theo Tales of Little Overhill by Mike Joens & Illustrated by Len Simon {Review & Giveaway}

ISBN: 9789751312433
About the book: Theo's Tale of the Good Rat is the first book in the Tales of Little Overhill series. Inspired by the popular Theo animation series, The Good Rat retells The Parable of the Good Samaritan, with winsome storytelling and full-color illustrations that will both captivate and inspire young readers' imaginations.



My thoughts: Wonderful children's books of the past that have endured are those like Wind in the Willows and the Peter Rabbit books. The charm of story, language, and illustrations endears them to children of all ages. In the Theo books we see this charm brought to bear with a re-telling of the Biblical story of The Good Samaritan. You know how the story goes: a traveler was beset upon by robbers and hurt terribly and left by the side of the road. Some "do-gooders" passed him by but were too busy to stop and help. Finally, someone passed by and stopped to help - but he was not the one most would expect to render aid. The timeless story is told about a little Shrew who was "set upon" by the mean Weasels and left hurt by the side of the road.

Others came along but were too busy and engrossed in their own business to stop and help. But help did finally stop.

I recommend this delightfully charming book for families and libraries everywhere. Learn more about this series and DVDs of the stories here.


GIVEAWAY: Open to USA addresses only. Begins December 26 & ENDS January 13 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Prize for 1 of Chat With Vera's readers is a $10 Family Christian Appreciation Certificate.

a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Family Christian in exchange for a review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review. The Family Christian certificate offered as a giveaway is provided directly to the winner by Family Christian.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Take a moment....

It has been said, and by those in professions which lend great credence to the statement, that the Christmas season records the greatest number of suicides of any other time during the year. There could be many reasons for this phenomena including the Winter Solstice, deprivation from cold and company, poverty, lack of companionship, disappointment from others during the gifting season, and the list goes on. So take a moment.....

  • Take a moment to be patient with the person who steps a bit slower than you.
  • Take a moment to consider giving to an individual less fortunate than yourself.
  • Take a moment to visit a shut in.
  • Take a moment to smile at the common man on the street.
  • Take a moment to buy a toy and give it to a child who doesn't have one.
  • Take a moment to embrace the unembraceable.
  • Take a moment to pray for your neighbor, your family, your nation, your world.
  • Take a moment to say "I love you" to those closest to you.
  • Take a moment to show your love to someone unlovable.

Just take a moment and lift a downed soul, to recognize a hurting spirit, to bring joy to the unjoyful. Just take a moment . . .
©Vera Godley

Monday, December 22, 2014

Let the Celebrations Begin! (A story of The Holocaust) by Margaret Wild & illustrated by Julie Vivas



ISBN-13: 978-0763670139
The story absolutely must be told, and retold, and then told again. This terrible, tragic time in history must never be forgotten. 

Imagine then my surprise when I saw a children’s picture book that even broached the story of The Holocaust! I thought there was no way this horror could be told or pictured for the ears and eyes of the young. But of course, the young were there experiencing that terrible time.  

Then I realized the author and illustrator had taken that very facet – children in a place of horror, their need for toys, and the kindness of others in that terrible place. Then they wove a gentle story and illustrated it realistically in soft colors (perhaps to soften the harshness of that place and time). It is a story of  believing they would be liberated and planning to have a children's party and providing toys for the children. Toys made by the women out of scraps - bit and pieces, bits of thread - from their own threadbare clothes. Toys for the children for this party when the soldiers would come and free them all.
There is a “small collection of stuffed toys preserved that were made by Polish women in Belsen.” The story includes the women and children that had survived waiting for soldiers to open the gates and let them out. To rescue them.

Children will ask questions as you read this book to them. The pictures show the women and children in rags. They have no hair. They are very hungry. This gentle book will afford an opportunity for parent or teacher to gently explain how horrible that time was but how strong the human spirit can be.

Margaret Wild, author, is a highly regarded and award-winning children’s book author whose book There’s a Sea in My Bedroom was short-listed for the Kate Greenaway Medal. She lives in Australia.
  
Julie Vivas, Illustrator, is an acclaimed illustrator whose books include The Nativity, which she also wrote, and Possum Magic by Mem Fox. She lives in Australia.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Candlewick Press in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone Exile, African Slavery, and the Publicity Stunt That Saved Millions By Jay Milbrandt

Published by Thomas Nelson

About the book: The captivating, untold story of the great explorer, David Livingstone: his abiding faith and his heroic efforts to end the African slave trade

Saint? Missionary? Scientist? Explorer?

The titles given to David Livingstone since his death are varied enough to seem dubious—and with good reason. In view of the confessions in his own journals, saint is out of the question. Even missionary is tenuous, considering he made only one convert. And despite his fame as a scientist and explorer, Livingstone left his most indelible mark on Africa in an arena few have previously examined: slavery.

His impact on abolishing what he called “this awful slave-trade” has been shockingly overlooked as the centerpiece of his African mission.

Until now.

The Daring Heart of David Livingstone tells his story from the beginning of his time in Africa to the publicity stunt that saved millions after his death.

My thoughts: David Livingston is a man that in many ways failed.  He failed as a missionary in that he only had one convert (and that is a dubious convert). He failed as an explorer (for truly his heart was into scientific exploration) in that he did not discover the mouth of the Nile. He failed to bring commerce to central Africa as a means to end the slave trade. Yet, for a seemingly multi-faceted failure, he is a much recognized and much revered individual. So exactly what did David Livingston accomplish?

The author Jay Milbrandt has thoroughly researched and presented the reader a rather in depth biography of Dr. Livingstone. While not excessively in depth nor length, the book is not an easy read. It is dry, detailed, and in some ways distracting in its thoroughness.  I found I quickly developed a dislike for the man, Livingstone. He is brutishly rude. Stubborn. Opinionated. He could go for weeks without speaking to anyone on shipboard no matter what the person wished to speak about. And he was, in my opinion, an uncaring husband and father.

He was, however, moved by the plight of the people of Africa whom the slavers - Portuguese, Arab, and yes, African - inflicted on human life for the sake of money. Africans sold their own tribesmen since that was all they had to "trade." Portuguese and Arab slavers massacred hundreds and used the Africans as porters to move ivory from inland Africa to the coast. Then they sold the slaves on the market. Yes, Livingston was moved. His solution was to create a new means of commerce for the interior of Africa that would halt the need to continue selling Africans as a means of gain.

Adventurer. Missionary. Abolitionist. Scientist. In the end, just who and what was Dr. David Livingston? I would say he was a man driven by ideas and ideals that he failed to see to fruition. I felt rather disappointed in his adventures since I had the perception that he was a missionary. My image of a missionary was not fulfilled in Mr.Livingstone. True, he did much to bring to a halt the slave trade and that is a major plus in his favor.

About the Author: Jay Milbrandt is a professor at Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a Senior Fellow in Global Justice with the Nootbaar Institute at Pepperdine University School of Law where he formerly directed the Global Justice Program. He travels throughout the world as a human rights lawyer, manages global initiatives in Africa and Southeast Asia, and consults with organizations engaged in human rights and legal development efforts. JayMilbrandt.com

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Blogging Program on behalf of the publisher and author in exchange for a review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

The Healer's Touch By: Lori Copeland HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHER

ISBN: 9780736956536 
About the book: Lyric Bolton desires friendship and acceptance from her Missouri community. Instead, her family is regarded with suspicion and fear because of her mother's mental illness. Resigned to living in isolation, Lyric doesn't see any way out---until Ian Cawley bolts into her life on a runaway stallion. But what will happen when he discovers her secrets?

My thoughts: I do enjoy Lori Copeland’s books and she has written a lot of them. The Healer’s Touch was not a favorite of mine, though. I felt the title somewhat misleading as I anticipated a character who truly had a healer’s touch in that they were helpful with people’s injuries and sicknesses. That was not the case in the story.

Secondly, while folklore is replete with a variety of “lights” and things that go-bump-in-the-night, this story capitalized on a “spooklight” legend from the mountains. I felt it was a bit overplayed and overdone as far as its inclusion into the story.

The characters were nicely fleshed out and seemed to fill the bill of “hillbilly” mountain folks. Lyric was the female lead and a devoted daughter. She was hard working and fell in love with the stranger, Ian, who literally came bolting into her life. My favorite characters were Lark (sister to Lyric) and Boots (friend of Lark’s). There two were into everything, totally preteen-mountain-kids, and so very funny. You’ll literally chuckle at some of their conversations and actions.

So what do I think about The Healer’s Touch? I think it is a good book to read. Clean. Funny. Characters that put God first and who have compassionate hearts. I can easily recommend it for a light, easy read. It just wasn’t one of my favorite Lori Copeland books.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Harvest House Publishing in exchange for this review. Opinions are those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

PB2 & PB2 Chocolate: Powdered Peanut Butter {Review & Giveaway)


When I agreed to review PB2 & PB2 Chocolate I seriously thought it was a gourmet peanut butter. After all, I'd reviewed a couple of gourmet peanut butters in the last year or so and have found it fascinating how folks can take peanut butter to new levels of fanciness. You know, folks, peanut butter has really come a long way since Mr.Carver developed it along with lots of other uses for the lowly peanut. But I digress.....

Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and saw the two jars of powdered peanut butter. I thought, "Seriously! How in the world can you scoop out a spoonful and simply eat it?" and also "Seriously! This is going to take some investigative recipe hunting!"

The first thing I tried was reconstituting it with water. The directions say 2 tablespoons powder to 1 tablespoon water. This proved to be a watery mess in my opinion. Knowing that many folks use and really like this product, I thought, "Well, got to be something I'm missing here!" I'm not a smoothie drinker, so tossing a little into a smoothie for added taste and protein is not an option for me but would be a win-win for others.

So I decided to try my hand at doing a bit of cooking with it. Having cooked up many batches of fudge through the years, and to a goodly portion of those adding a scoop or so of regular peanut butter, I decided to improvise a bit with old fashioned fudge.

I used some coconut oil, some butter (real), regular cocoa powder, a bit of milk, and sugar. I reconstituted 1/2 cup of the PB2 Chocolate and water (according to the 2 to 1 directions). After cooking the sugar, cocoa, and milk for awhile I added the fats. After cooking them awhile I added the PB2. I continued cooking until it formed a soft ball in cold water (regular old-fashioned method for testing state of being ready). I then beat it awhile with my electric hand mixer and added chopped pecans.
My husband really likes this fudge!
My opinion: I really am not fond of this product for my own personal use or for cooking in our household. I will pass along my unused portion to family members who drink smoothies. I can see the value for a "peanut flour" but it is not a product I would enjoy using.

GIVEAWAY: PB2 will provide 2 jars of PB2 to one of Chat With Vera's readers.  ET.Open for USA addresses only.

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Product Description (from PB2) - PB2 is made with the highest quality peanuts that are slow roasted and then cold pressed to remove the fat and oil.  All that’s left is a delicious natural roasted peanut flavor.  PB2 with chocolate is simply PB2 blended with the finest cocoa beans to give you rich chocolate flavor. Both are all natural, made with no preservatives and are gluten free.  If you have any doubts about the benefits of PB2 versus traditional peanut butter, keep in mind that PB2 is all natural without the fat or added hydrogenated oils of other brands.  PB2 and PB2 with chocolate have only 45 calories per serving (2 Tbsp) and 0 grams of saturated fat.  When compared to traditional peanut butter which is 190 calories per serving (2 Tbsp) and 3 grams of saturated fat.

DISCLOSURE: I received 2 complimentary products to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.  I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ozeri Artesio Electric Pepper Grinder

I've cooked for years using pepper already ground to season my food. Knowing that folks said grinding your own pepper assured better flavor (and you can even vary the texture and using various peppercorns). Little did I know! I am now a believer in freshly ground pepper to season food.

Ozeri makes life so easy and nice whether it is in health care products such as blood pressure monitors, bathroom scales, pedometers, electric fans, or electric pepper grinders. I am just delighted with each product I've reviewed for Ozeri.

This electric pepper grinder at first was a wee-bit daunting to this lady who is somewhat "builder" or "putter-together" challenged. But I did it. I opened it up and easily inserted the 4 batteries. Then I placed fresh peppercorns in the clear "bowl" of the grinder. After putting the 3 pieces back together, I tested it.

I found that I could adjust the grind for coarse or fine. A slight depression of the on button makes this one-handed operation easy to use.
The elegant design will look beautiful in any kitchen setting or you can easily use it when serving.  There is even a light that shines (much like a flashlight) while it is grinding so you can see the progress. This is an excellent feature if you're in a dimly lit area.

I am pleased to recommend this as an excellent product.

DISCLOSURE: Ozeri provided me with this product in order to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Game time! Learning the wisdom of King Solomon with WISDOMANTICS (interactive DVD Board-game)--Giveaway #Wisdomantics

About the game: For 2-4 players, ages 12+

This is the actual playing board, similar to
other board games.
Wisdomantics–New King James Version (NKJV) is an interactive DVD board - game for players of various faiths who desire to gain the vast wisdom of King Solomon. Wisdomantics-NKJV utiitlizes the proverbs of Solomon and blends chance, knowledge and strategy to create a fun experience while you learn! The game’s intent is to bring individuals together to learn how to cope with numerous situations in a fun and relaxed environment. Inside the box you’ll find 2 interactive DVDs with 400 questions, score cards, blessing cards, and more!

Learning the wisdom of King Solomon is powerful AND fun!

My thoughts: When given the opportunity to take a look at the "Wisdomantics" board game with interactive DVD, I was excited yet perplexed. Frankly, I couldn't perceive of a board game that uses DVDs. When I envision board games, I have visions of family gathered around the kitchen table with a game to wile away a cold Winter evening. I think of togertherness and "face time."  When I received the game, and saw how it is structured to be played, I came away with a variety of feelings about it.

First of all let me explain that in raising five of our own children, we played games. And we played Bible games of various types. They were basically board games. These game times were family time but they were also unstructured learning opportunities for my children. They were also times for me to refresh my memory about various Bible facts.

With Wisdomantics, the computer (via DVDs) prompts a question with multiple choice answers. If the first player doesn't get the right answer (30 seconds to do so) then player #2 gets a chance (and has 20 seconds).  Mentally challenging and time based, the player's capacity to know Scripture (primarily Proverbs) is greatly enhanced. The game uses the New King James version of the Bible.

Pro and Cons:

  1. Pro: Mentally stimulating
  2. Pro: Family time - or good group activity
  3. Pro: DVDs probably afford greater capacity for larger number of questions and facts
  4. Pro: Affords a great opportunity to have fun while learning more about Scripture
  5. Con: Children and families need to disconnect from technology from time to time
  6. Con: Probably too advanced for children who are not really actively enrolled in a stimulating Christian school, Christian based homeschool, or strong church
  7. Con: May be too fast paced for those without strong, very strong, Scriptural teachings

You can learn more here: Wisdomantics game by Kingdom Games Enterprises, LLC.

GIVEAWAY: Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification by FlyByPromotions PR Group. ENDS Dec. 31 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Open USA addresses only.
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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  randomly chosen via Rafflecopter.com. I received a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Christmas through the eyes of a child on South 4th Street - a long time ago

I was born post-depression era and pre-World War II. I was the apple of my father's eye. His little "Shirley Temple" complete with smile and curls and the talent to dance a bit.

Dad was a pre-depression era Southern boy who fell in love with my mother and they married at the height of the depression. Children came along and the "child" in Dad bloomed. Dad was a man who loved hobbies. One of his was electric trains. These were not the narrow gage trains with small engines. They were the old Lionel trains. Dad created a city beneath the Christmas tree each year, and his trains rounded the tree regularly. Whistles tooting! Smoke from the engine's smoke stack. Village houses lite up powered by the same electricity that powered his trains. They were his pride and joy. Of course, not as much a  pride to him as his sons and daughter.

Times were tight. Money was scarce. Food was delicious. But this little girl didn't know that money was scarce. It was years before I ever knew how tight those pennies were pinched. How Mom and Dad would sit and count out Dad's wages each week and allott it for bills, food for the week, and whatever else that was necessary. Five cents for a pack of gum was a treat as was a five cent coke. But on to Christmas.....

Mom cooked cakes every year. Pound Cake. Black Walnut Cake. Light Fruit Cake. Dark Fruit Cake. And Japanese Fruit Cake. I have memories of our sitting around the dining room table (it was so large) and Mom was cutting (dicing) candied fruit. Or she was shelling pecans and English walnuts. Her cakes were so good that she even sold a few each Christmas season. After she baked the cakes, they were tightly wrapped in waxed paper and cloth and stacked in large canisters to ripen. We only had heat in one room, so the cannisters of cakes were stored in the cold bedrooms. We did not disturb them.

But on to Christmas.... the magic of delights - food, toys, family. I remember the stories told in later years about the effort it took to bring a child's enchantment alive on Christmas morning. The year my older brother was the ONLY child in the city to get a bike for Christmas. How Dad was able to get the bike and hold on to it during a time when there just weren't any bikes anywhere is still a mystery. He was offered many times the value of the bike by wealthy folks, but that bike was for his boy and no one else!

And then after the war when things were better and Dad's boy needed a larger bike and Dad's little girl needed (of course, translate needed to wanted) a bike, Dad got bikes. Dad was a shoe cobbler and the bikes were kept in the upstairs area of his shoe repair shop where we kids just weren't allowed to venture. Christmas Eve, or so the story goes, my Dad and my Uncle Bill walked to town, put the two bikes together, and then rode them back to the house in the middle of the night. Don't you just know how much fun those two had!

Anyway, we were delighted Christmas morning to wake up and find our bikes. But bikes were not the only delights at Christmas time. There were dolls, too. And for dolls there were doll clothes. My mother was a wonderful lady and could sew beautifully. She made most of my clothes and most of her's. My dolls were well-dressed because my mother sewed when I wasn't around providing me with such delights and surprises.

And then there were the "cowboy" outfits. Dad being a shoe cobbler had access to real leather suede and heavy duty sewing machines. He decided that my younger brother and our cousin, Joe, should have cowboy outfits. this consisted of chaps and vests that he made. Well, he and Mom made. They had lots of brads (metal pieces hammered onto them), lots of fringe, and a real authentic look and feel. These were also sold to other parents for their kiddies. They were not cheap. They were custom made and absolutely fantastic. Of course, the boys had hats, plaid shirts, guns (six-shooters, no less), and holsters. And of course, Mom made an outfit for my doll, too! Vest and fringed skirt with a little plaid shirt.

I remember the Christmas trees. By today's standards, they were pretty slim. But they were certainly beautiful back then - especially in a child's eyes. And Christmas morning, we couldn't go in the living room until Dad went in and lite the tree, stepped back with his camera, and was ready to capture our delight and joy at the treasures he had set before us (in the guise of Santa).

Tradition continued through the years. My brother and I outgrew "Santa" but still tradition maintained no-peeking rules. My "baby" brother was still a believer. However, still being a curious child hopeful for delights abounding under the tree, one Christmas I sneaked into the living room under the dark cloak of night, tip toed through the door, reaching with arms outstretched and then..... the unspeakable happened!

I stumbled over a TRAIN! Dad's train!  Not knowing what kind of mess I had made but fearing discovery, I skedaddled back to my room, jumped in bed, and no one ever said a word about the noise, the train, or the mess. Well, not until we were all grown-up, of course.

So Christmas through the eyes of a child during and post-World War II on South 4th Street in Wilmington, North Carolina is filled with memories.
©Vera Godley

Friday, December 12, 2014

Farewell Four Waters: One Aid Worker's Sudden Escape From Afghanistan by Kate McCord (Review & Giveaway)

  • ISBN-13: 978-0802412065
  • River North Fiction (Moody Publishers)
About the book: In 14 days, the life she knew would end on the streets of Kabul.  All Marie needed was a few stamps and signatures – the mandatory paperwork necessary for the Afghan government – and she could hold literacy classes in the rural town of Shektan. Her hope:  Afghan women would learn to read.

Suddenly, shots resonated.  An aid worker killed at an intersection in Kabul.  The community scattered.

Most decided to say farewell.  Not Marie; she chose to stay, to teach.  But she was unaware that this choice would make her a pawn at the center of a local feud.  Kidnapping was Marie’s worst fear.  She didn’t know treachery was more deadly.

Farewell, Four Waters is based on actual events the author and other aid workers faced in Afghanistan in 2008.  See through their eyes the dangers faced globally even today.

Review: This is an excellent book.  I was so intrigued by the author’s story – her desire to be in Afghanistan, to help the women and to also share truth about Jesus – to live in a country where women are viewed in a much lower way than we could ever possibly know as citizens of the United States.

The author shows us we can and should depend upon the Lord for guidance and protection; and while this is not the main topic of the book, it is a thread that runs throughout her story.  The author takes us into the country and beyond just what we may see on the evening news.  She shares with us the friendships she built, the deep sadness of leaving the country and the ultimate horror of watching innocent people being killed for little to no reason.

Farewell, Four Waters is the second book written by Kate McCord.  It is a sequel to In the Land of Blue Burqas and I will be reading it as soon as I can.  If it is anything like Farewell, Four Waters, I will not be disappointed and will perhaps have an greater understanding of the people in Afghanistan and an encouragement to pray for that country.

We take for granted all that we have here in the United States and think that a little trouble is great tragedy.  We do not have to worry about persecution for expressing our beliefs.  If we are persecuted, it is so small in comparison that it cannot be called persecution.  I highly recommend this book to our High School students and desire that through their reading of this story,  they may realize how very fortunate they are to be a citizen of the United States of America! (guest review by P.Howard)

GIVEAWAY is open for USA & Canada for a print copy of Farewell Four Waters. Begins Dec. 12 & ENDS January 5 @ 12:01 a.m. ET.
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About Kate McCord: Kate McCord, a protective pseudonym, lived and worked in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2010. During her years in country, she worked as a humanitarian aid worker, delivering projects to benefit the people of Afghanistan. She also learned the local language and developed deep and lasting friendships with local Afghans. After evacuating from her home in Afghanistan, Kate transitioned into a mentoring, training, consulting and coaching role to other workers serving in the region. Prior to moving to Afghanistan, she worked in the international corporate community as a business process and strategy consultant. Today, Kate serves Christ through writing, speaking, mentoring and conducting workshops and seminars.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Side Door Communications in exchange for our review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Place In His Heart by Rebecca DeMarino

About the book: Anglican Mary Langton longs to marry for love. Left at the altar and disgraced in her small hamlet, she is being pressured to marry the eligible son of the London milliner. Puritan Barnabas Horton still grieves the loss of his beloved wife, but he knows his two young sons need a mother.

With tender hearts, Mary and Barnabas take a leap of faith and wed. But when Barnabas's secret plans to move his family to the New World to escape persecution come to light, Mary's world is upended. How could she possibly leave her papa and her dear sister?

And will she ever reach the secret places of her husband's broken heart?

My thoughts: As I began reading A Place in His Heart, I was immediately captivated by the setting, characters, and author’s writing. I was especially thrilled to read the quotation from the Bible in the early part of the book. I sensed the quote was from an old version so I check the front pages and saw that Biblical quotes were from the Geneva Bible, 1599 Edition. Often an author (I am sure bowing to preferences of her readers) uses modern translations or version when they quote the Bible. That, however, is a true turn—off for me. I give Rebecca DeMarino a 10-out-of-10 points for authenticity by delving into a version accurate to the time and place.

Since the story is based on the author’s family history dating back to the 1600s, her research into the Horton family is to be commended.

After the first 50 or so pages, the story began to drag and was repetitious – at least to this reader. The gist of the story is a young woman is about to be given in marriage to a man she simply does not wish to marry. But another man desires to take her “to wife” and to be the mother of his two young boys. His wife, Ann, whom he loved greatly, having just recently died. They seem to be agreeable to marriage and the wedding takes place.  Soon it becomes evident that Barnabas has not told Mary all. He plans to soon move to The Massachusetts Bay Area to escape the encroaching discipline of the Church of England on those who believe in a Reformed church.

They prepare to leave, travel across the Atlantic, and begin to settle into life in their new home. Much of the story is given over to this period of their life and it seems to drag.

The author writes well and for a debut novel this is a good book. I’m giving it a 4-star rating because I felt the writing was good, her research very well done, and for the beautiful cover. I probably would give it a 3-star for not being able to retain my interest, but I’ll just boost it to a 4-star since the inattentiveness could simply be my own.

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

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings

About the book: Having fled a difficult home life, Civil War nurse Abigail Stuart feels like her only friend in the world is sweet but gravely wounded patient Jeremiah Calhoun. Fearing he won't survive, the Confederate soldier's last wish is that Abigail look after his sickly sister at home. Marry him, return to his horse farm, and it'll be hers.

Left with few choices, Abigail takes him up on his offer and moves to Missouri after his death, but just as the family learns to accept her, the real Jeremiah Calhoun appears--puzzled to find a confounding woman posing as his wife. Jeremiah is determined to have his life back to how it was before the war, but his own wounds limit what he can do on his own. Still not fully convinced Abigail isn't duping him, he's left with no choice but to let the woman stay and help--not admitting to himself she may provide the healing his entire family needs.

My thoughts: Regina Jennings brings her readers stories that are relaxing and enjoyable to read with humour and lively characters that captivate the reader's attention all through the book. The story involves post Civil War characters who have seen the horror and devastation that war brings to a country. It tells of an area in the border between the North and South where loyalties are not clearly drawn and neighbors continue to war with one another. But most of all, this story is one of loyalty and forgiveness.

While it deals with the issues of post-war Missouri - the poverty, severe illness and traumatic war injuries, it factors in unbelievably humourous situations that border on the ridiculous. Historical fiction is a favorite genre, but it can sometimes be a weighty read. From time to time we need a simply fun read and that is what Regina Jennings brings to the table with A Most Inconvenient Marriage.

Characters: While not major, several stand out as charming to me as I read. "Ma" - mother of Jeremiah is accepting, forgiving, enduring, and sometimes just simply a "mountain" woman. "Betsy & Jessie" - brother and sister and children of Jeremiah's poverty-stricken, and caring neighbor. These two are continuously into mischief and pranks. You'll love them.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are my own and I received no compensation for this review.

Friday, December 5, 2014

And this is Christmas . . .


There is so much of Christmas everywhere. Its lights on trees. Songs in the air. Smiles on faces. Toys in shops. Crowds in stores. It’s shopping in malls and stores on the corner. It’s cooking in the kitchen - cookies and cakes and pies of the season. Its harried Moms and Dads. Its jaded store employees and fretful owners. It’s a gleam in the eye of a child. A ring of a bell beside a red kettle. Its church choirs in harmony rejoicing at a miracle of God become man in the form of a babe.

It is sadness in the eyes of the homeless. It is tattered coats and sleeves too short on children suffering from want or abuse. It is the ch-ching-ching of a register as a shopper buys an eloquent gift while a hungry child looks longingly through the window of a restaurant.

It is despair. It is hope. It is joy. It is sadness.

But most of all it is God.

God Himself in the form of a newborn infant in wrappings of rags or swaddling clothes. It is a rank stable or manger. It is a gentle virgin’s warm embrace. It is love. Love where God looks on man’s wayward heart and says it is time for His Son to bring redemption.

Christmas is a babe. Christmas is Christ the incarnate Son of God.
©Vera Godley

Monday, December 1, 2014

Mom Bloggers Proudly Put Convenient and Tasty Idahoan® Flavored Mashed Potatoes on Their Tables and Yours

I am honored to have been quoted by Wendy's Bloggers in a news release to PRWeb - Online Visibility from Vocus in a December 1st release. This is pertinent to a review I and several other of Wendy's Bloggers did on the Idahoan® Brand instant mashed potatoes.

My review will go live here on Chat With Vera in a couple of days with a giveaway I'm hosting, too.

To read the release, please click here.