Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Midnight Visitors by Juliet David & Illustrated by Jo Parry


ISBN: 9781781282335
$14.99 - Hardback
About the book: Miriam was glad to be warm and cozy. There were so many people in the town but it was nice and peaceful inside her cowshed. Little did she know that she would soon be joined by Midnight Visitors . . . and not just any old visitors!

Snuggle up and enjoy the warm, soft feel the art and narrative bring to this delightful Christmas picture book with a difference.

My thoughts: This is a sweet book with soft, lovely pictures that tell the story of Miriam, a cow. Miriam is settling down for the night in her cozy barn when first a family of rabbits and then a fox seek shelter for the night inside Miriam's barn. Then more visitors are ushered in - Mary and Joseph.

The Christ child is born and "Miriam moves from her warmed spot in the hay to make room for them."  Miriam hears beautiful music (no angels are seen).. Then three shepherds visit.

So Miriam's barn sees Midnight Visitors.

This is definitely a story to categorize as folklore and definitely a diversion from the Biblical record of the Birth of Christ the Savior. Juliet David and Jo Parry have teamed up to create a sweet story. Many will enjoy it. Purists will not.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel Publication to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Meet My Best Friend by Sheila Walsh [Review & Giveaway]

Buy it at Family Christian
About the book: The Bible is not only a book, but it can also be a friend—the best friend we have. This engaging picture book is a must-have because it allows kids to see the Bible as a friend they can trust and rely on. It’s a fun read that entertains and also tells the story of how much God loves them. 

My thoughts: This is a really cute book as the twins in Scotland greet newcomer, Abby, to their neighborhood. The McDougal twins invite Abby into their home to play. While there, the twins want to introduce Abby to their best friend so they play a game of hot and cold to see if Abby can find their best friend.

The "friend" is finally located and it isn't an individual; it is a book. Not just any book, it is the Bible, God's Holy Word.

I like the story line and the game the three children play. The two dogs are adorable and in side remarks carry on their own story line.

I personally believe that our best friend is Jesus, the Christ of the Bible. Our Savior. Our Redeemer. One with the Father. So personally I think presenting God's Written Word as a best friend is presumptuous. It is very true that the Bible is sacred and is the Word of God; and the Bible comforts the hurting and lonely. But it is not a personage.

So the story is cute, the illustrations quirky-cute and fun. It will provide a good read.
GIVEAWAY 
Begins November 25
ENDS December 9 @ 12:00 a.m. ET. 
 Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
If you have won a copy of this book from our sponsor Family Christian, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Entries will be verified is randomly selected as a winning entry. Example: You Tweet and provide the Tweet URL. I will check it and it MUST be viewable to me.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Family Christian to facilitate this sponsored review. The giveaway copy is provided by Family Christian and will be shipped directly to the winner by Family Christian. Opinions expressed in this review are solely my own. Family Christian is providing a copy of "Meet My Best Friend" for this Giveaway.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Memories of Thanksgiving Past as Pertaining to Sweet Potatoes

Sometimes memory fails us. Sometimes memory eludes us. Sometimes it simply gets muddled up with other occasions and clear definitive memories simply don’t exist.

However, memories are still a part of who each of us is and have helped to shape us into the person we are today.

As I reflect back on Thanksgiving Day through the years, my growing up memories and my grown up memories have somehow coalesced into one big blur. But tidbits of memories do exist.

I remember mother making her wonderful candied sweet potatoes. These were made from fresh, peeled, uncooked sweet potatoes.* After peeling the potatoes, she sliced them lengthwise into flat pieces which she then arranged in overlapping layers in her baking pan. It was very important to slice them lengthwise rather than across them. She then prepared the sugar and butter ingredients. I don’t have a recipe for this, and maybe she didn’t either. Good cooks sometimes just simply put together these wonderful foods from their own mental storehouse of recipes. I do remember that she always added vanilla. This was a key ingredient! These were baked until they were almost translucent. Marvelously delicious!

In later years sweet potato casserole consisting of cooked and mashed sweet potatoes, vanilla, sugar, egg/s, and orange juice & grated rind seemed to take the place of candied sweet potatoes. She also topped this with marshmallows. Again, fresh sweet potatoes were used in this, not canned.

And then much later, the sweet potato casserole changed a bit. The orange was left out and the potato mixture was baked and then topped with a mind-blowing delicious topping of sugar, butter, and chopped pecans.

All-in-all, sweet potatoes are a big memory of Thanksgiving from my growing up days and on into my own grown up days. Now the sweet potato cooking is relegated to a daughter, daughter-in-law, or granddaughter and most of the time the dish is the pecan-topped version.

How will you serve your sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving?

*Have you ever tried to peel a raw sweet potato? It is hard to do and the sap of the potato leaves your hands stained.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Parable Treasury by Liz Curtis Higgs

About the book: For nearly twenty years, Liz Curtis Higgs has made the holidays a little brighter throughout the year with her Parable Series. In a lovely padded hardcover format, the Gold Medallion–winning books from the Parable Series will include:
  • "The Pumpkin Patch Parable," which focuses on the harvest season and shows that we can let God’s love shine through us
  • "The Pine Tree Parable," a heartwarming tale of the farmer and his family, who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees.
  • "The Parable of the Lily," which helps children understand the power of grace and forgiveness and the true meaning of Easter.
  • "The Sunflower Parable," which helps children discover the value of planting seeds, not only in the ground but also in the hearts of those around us.
With simplicity and creative storytelling, this is sure to be a family favorite.

My thoughts: While this is an absolutely adorable book of four stories – one for each season, and while it is a collection of stories that are well done and make for good read-aloud stories for the kiddies, there are a couple of issues that I find disturbing.
  1. The Spring story is about a lily. This is a gift from the farmer (who in the parable represents the giver of all good gifts – God) but it is not a good-to-look-at gift. It is a box of dirt containing a bulb. At one point in the story the child is disturbed and throws the bulb out the window. It lands in the farmer’s flower bed. Then behold, on Easter, there is a beautiful lily. Now why would I object to this? The truth is handled loosely here. Lilies – specifically Easter Lilies – despite their “name” do not bloom in a garden on Easter.      
  2. The other issue is in regard to the Fall story about the pumpkin seed being planted in the ground, growing, being harvested. Then the farmer (again a representative in the story/parable of the giver of gifts, the molder of lives, etc.) cleanses the soiled pumpkin, cuts the top off, scrapes out the insides and tosses them away “never to be seen again” (picture of sin?). Then the farmer skillfully carves a beautiful smiling face into the pumpkin and inserts a light which shines forth for all to see (depicting a cleansed, redeemed individual's light shining forth). While the imagery is nice, the use of a Jack-O-Lantern, which is a totally Halloween symbol, is inappropriate in any Christian work. I realize the author has stated it was not meant to celebrate Halloween.
I do like the book and the concept of these four parables. I do like the illustrations. I do like the stories. I am just concerned with these issues.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

How will your Cranberries be served this Thanksgiving?

On today's version of the Thanksgiving table, there are many choices for adding that bit of red that decorates our plates and tantalizes our taste buds. Versions of cranberry sauce.

At one time, the tradition called for a cranberry sauce made simply with cranberries, sugar, and water. The recipe was on the bag of cranberries and in the tried and true Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. Of course, somewhere along the timeline, canned versions of this traditional cranberry sauce as well as a pureed and jelled sauce were available. But nothing quite matched that cooked at home from fresh cranberries sauce served in Grandma's pretty glass dish.

Through the years, I've varied my own home cooked sauce adding peeled and minced apples, orange rind (I choose to put big chunks rind and remove it prior to serving), pecans, and perhaps even spices. Just whatever strikes my fancy or I happen to have in the 'fridge at the time.

And then there are many versions using jello congealing the sauce for a lovely jeweled presentation at table. And Mom's where she actually ground the fresh cranberries with oranges (this was a grinder fastened to the table and cranked by hand) and pecans. This was mixed with sugar and perhaps jello. I don't know the recipe nor can I find it. But it was made several days in advance and allowed to sit in the 'fridge for optimum flavor merging. This was a culinary delight! Of course, it seems that anything about food that my mother set her hand to the task of preparing was always a culinary delight.

But what will Vera do about cranberry sauce this year? I have a bag of cranberries. I have sugar. I have some apples. I may buy some oranges. Who knows? Will the sauce be plain this year or will Vera choose to add a bit more for flavor variety?

TIP: I usually use a little less water than the recipe calls for. This makes for a sweet and less runny sauce.

TIP #2: Cranberries are a very healthy food.

NEXT DAY NOTE - AFTER COOKING: Well, the deed is done! Sadly when I opened the bag of "name brand" fresh cranberries, over 1/2 cup were very bad, so I didn't have a "bag" of cranberries. Never-the-less, I used less water, about the amount of sugar for a bag, 1/2 orange (not just rind), and 1/2 peeled and finely chopped apple. Cooked until berries all popped, then a wee-bit more. Removed the orange (this is pretty good to nibble on later). Sauce is Delicious! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

CHRIS TOMLIN'S NEW CHRISTMAS CD ALBUM "ADORE: CHRISTMAS SONGS OF WORSHIP" [Review & Giveaway]


What is Christmas without the beautiful music? I have always loved beautiful music and at Christmas time it seems it is even more special. I especially love the old tried and true classic music.

This new Christmas album released in October 2015 features classic Christmas songs with a mix of original Christmas songs.  There are special guest performances from Lauren Daigle, All Sons & Daughters, Crowder, and more on this album.

Songs:

  1. He Shall Reign Forevermore
  2. Adore
  3. Midnight Clear (Love Song)
  4. Noel featuring Lauren Daigle 
  5. Hymn Of Joy 
  6. Silent Night featuring Kristyn Getty 
  7. What Child Is This? featuring Sons & Daughters 
  8. It's Christmas
  9. A King Like This
  10. Bethlehem
  11. A Christmas Alleluia featuring Lauren Daigle & Leslie Jordan of All Sons & Daughters 
My thoughts:  I am more of a classic's music lover and the more contemporary music appeals to a younger audience. I thought "Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship" was going to feature more of the traditional line of Christmas music. While I found "Adore" repertoire of songs to consist of words glorifying the Christ, I did not find the music classic or traditional with the exception of the group singing "Silent Night" and "Hymn of Joy."

So for contemporary Christian music fans and those to whom the music of Chris Tomlin appeals, this is most likely your style. The music does have a reverence to it and the words do definitely lend to worship. I plan to pass this CD along to a family member who does enjoy this style of music and anticipate that it will be played extensively over the holidays.
GIVEAWAY 
Begins November 20
ENDS November 30 @ 12:00 a.m. ET. 
 Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Chris Tomlin is an American contemporary Christian music artist, worship leader, and songwriter who has sold nearly 30 million records.  Some of his most well-known songs are "How Great Is Our God", "Jesus Messiah", "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)", "Our God", and "Whom Shall I Fear".  His 2013 album Burning Lights debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, only the fourth Christian album ever to open at No.1.  Throughout his career, Chris has been nominated for 32 Dove Awards (6 of them collaborative efforts) and he has won 19 of them.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Ten Zany Birds by Sherry Ellis

About the book: Ten zany birds have a party in a tree, singing and dancing. Five have stripes, three have spots, and one has purple polka dots. They're all having fun, but one by one, they become distracted.

One is frightened by a loud plane. One gets hungry. One wants to race and another needs a bath. Only one stays to sing in the tree, but who will it be?

Ten Zany Birds is a fun, beautifully illustrated picture book. As parents and teachers read, children are introduced to counting and basic subtraction skills. Whenever a bird leaves, the number of striped, spotted, and polka-dotted birds changes, teaching the application of simple classification rules.

Whimsical and entertaining, Sherry Ellis's tale of ten silly, distractible little birds is an excellent choice for both prereader storybook time and early readers.
My thoughts: The rhyming, bouncing, lyrical text for Ten Zany Birds flows beautifully and it is obvious that the author has a clear sense of rhythm. I noticed this before I ever discovered anything about the author. When I looked more into the author's identity, I saw that Sherry Ellis is a professional musician playing the violin, viola, and piano. (See Author information below for more detail)

I found it interesting that this little book not only is a "counting book" but keys the kid's attention to details such as colors, design (purple polka dots, stripes, spots). There is a bit of addition and subtraction as the flighty birds take flight, etc.
I would love to see this book picked up by a larger publishing house with a recording of the Ten Zany Birds words set to music. Perhaps a bit more can be factored in. With Ms. Ellis' musical skills this could be a great introduction to violin or stringed music for children.

Author information: Sherry Ellis is a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano.  She has appeared as a soloist in Germany, and was a semi-finalist in the 2004 International Viola Competition held in Paris, France.  She is actively involved in the American String Teacher' s Association, and has served terms as Secretary and Vice President of the Ohio String Teacher's Association.  Sherry is the principal violist of the Georgia Philharmonic. Sherry Ellis has always been an inspiration to me as she is an amazing woman,  not only is she a freelance writer and award-winning author, she is a mom and a professional musician.
https://www.facebook.com/Sherry-Ellis-388897186076/
http://www.sherryellis.org/
http://sherryellis.blogspot.com/

I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl (Finding Sanctuary Series, book 3)

About the book: When newspaper reporter Sophie Wittenbauer follows a lead on a decades-old crime to Sanctuary, Missouri, she encounters an old crush and new dangers.

My thoughts: Nancy Mehl is a prolific writer. I have read and reviewed her last two three-book series – the Kingdom series and the Sanctuary series. While each novel is a stand alone book, it is more enjoyable to read them in the order in which they were written.

Kingdom and Sanctuary are two Mennonite communities that are a mixture of those of the Mennonite faith and those of other Christian denominations.

The author fleshes out the characters with descriptions, settings, and conversations that help the reader know just what a character’s role in the story really is.

In Rising Darkness we have the conclusion of the Sanctuary three-book series. Having read the Kingdom series, I soon realized that the female protagonist, Sophia, is an abused child/teen from a Mennonite home in Kingdom; and the male protagonist, Jonathan, is a former Kingdom Mennonite who has become a pastor in a church of a different denomination in the town of Sanctuary.

Sanctuary is a close knit community but one in which folks work well together even though they don’t share the same beliefs.

Sophia has come to Sanctuary in search of a story about a criminal and the stolen cash. This should be the making of her reporting career. She goes in as “Emily” to keep it “under cover.” During her search for the missing criminal who she believes may be in Sanctuary, she lies to the dear people in Sanctuary who befriend and aid her.  Troubled by this deception, she still persists in her search. Then real trouble and threats begin.

Mehl writes a good suspense story that is clean, entertaining, and with characters you’d love to have as neighbors and perhaps some you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Another good conclusion to a good series.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thanksgiving Stuff'n or Dressing - Whichever it is, it is good!

The house is prepped for company. The food for various favorite dishes has been bought and is ready to be prepared. The table will be set in glorious splendor. We're about to indulge in a tribute to the bounty that has been provided for us. It's Thanksgiving!

And part of all this glorious good stuff is the stuff of dreams - the stuffing that is in the bird. Stuffing! Dressing! Inside the bird. Outside the bird. With various things comprising its makeup from types of bread to chestnuts or oysters. Stuffing or Dressing is various things to various people.

Well, mostly around here, we call it stuffing because when we bake the turkey we usually "stuff" it into the bird-cavity. However, when we make it we have to prepare more than will fit inside the bird so some of this delectable dish is really "dressing."

I do something a bit different from most folks when I make our stuffing. I gave up years ago on baking my own cornbread, biscuits, and toasted bread to make the stuffing. I purchase several bags and varieties of bread stuffing - cornbread, sage, and mixed-bread. I combine these and then I make my difference.

To us stuffing calls for butter, onions, celery, and grits. Yep! You heard it right - grits.

I chop (smallish but not tiny) the onions and celery and then cook them a bit in the melted butter until slightly cooked. Then I add enough chicken broth (canned - salted and unsalted, but mostly low-sodium) for the 1 cup of grits that I add. (This is usually a 4 to 1 ration - 4 cups broth to 1 cup grits. I like Quaker grits.) I bring it to a slow boil and add the uncooked grits and simmer until the grits are done.

I have now a pot full of onions, celery, grits, and butter. This is then poured over the bread crumbs with additional chicken broth (canned or homemade). Since I'm using the packaged stuffing bread I usually don't need more sage. But I do kind of check to see if it needs a bit more spice. Since all of this is safe to do a taste test on, I can determine if it needs a bit of salt, pepper, and/or sage.

If I am roasting the turkey in the oven, I stuff the bird about 3/4 full leaving room for expansion as it cooks. The remainder is placed in an oiled large, flat baking dish and baked until brown on top. If the turkey is smoked on a grill/smoker, we do not stuff the bird so all the stuffing becomes dressing baked in a pan.

Get the picture. Whichever way you cook it, it is still mighty fine eating.

(NOTE: If you are making a small batch of stuffing, you won't need a full cup of grits. 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup according to how large a batch of stuffing you're preparing. I use several packages of bread/stuffing to this 1 cup of grits. The amount of butter is according to that which is needed to prepare the bread packages as is the liquid. Just factor in a bit more butter and broth. Use onion and celery according to your taste. Extra pepper is almost always needed.)

Sprouts Cold Remedy Herbal Supplement #Remedies


I remember a doctor once telling me that at the first sign of a cold or sore throat he would use a dropper full of echinacea on the back of his tongue. He said it works for him to stop the cold at the onset. I've never tried it. Does it work? Who knows, but this is a respected professional in our area. So when I saw the opportunity to try the  Sprouts Cold Remedy, I pursued it.

I awoke the other morning with typical allergy or cold symptoms - runny nose. I used my allergy meds. About four hours later the sore throat kicked in. I thought, well, today is the day to try the Sprouts Cold Remedy  because this seems to be more than allergies. So I used two droppers full of the drops in a teaspoon. I took it straight. A bit strong tasting but I washed it down with a bit of water. So far, 8 hours later I really do feel better. No sore throat. I will repeat this tomorrow and see how things go.

The next day I felt a little cold still so I used the Sprouts Cold Remedy, 2 droppers of it in a couple ounces of water (tastes better this way). On the third day I felt just a bit of cold left, so one more dose of Cold Remedy. Later on day three, I felt as though I had no cold at all.

So either I had a very short lived cold or this helped. Echinacea is suppose to be a good for you herb, so I felt that this is most likely a product that can help and can't hurt.

What I like..... ....


  • Ingredients - See the Echinacea, that is what our local doctor mentioned. Maybe he is on to something!
  • Made in a GMP Certified Facility (Good Manufacturing Practices) means they have demonstrated strong regulatory commitment and compliance to international GMP standards.
  • Kof k Kosher Certified
  • Simple, easy to understand ingredients.

Product Description (from Sprouts Cold Remedy)

Sprouts Cold Remedy is a blend of herbs containing anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that help the body resist and kill unwanted foreign substances which prevents the virus from attacking cells. It boosts the immune system and keeps the virus from multiplying. In addition, it helps to loosen and expel phlegm from the lungs; and stimulates circulation and reduces inflammation. For those seeking sore throat remedies, this remedy has been proven to accelerate a healing effect and to alleviate the soreness and irritation within hours.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. This is a sponsored post.

An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti (Holiday Novella) [Review & Giveaway]


About the book: Christmas takes a very different turn when the guests of honor break up instead of announcing their engagement. Trapped with his family, they learn that love looks different than either imagined.

Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last. This year, their grandson Micah is planning to ask his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him so they can celebrate with the whole family. But things go very wrong when she says, "no." Now they are stuck. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.


My thoughts: This is an unbelievably delightful read. Unless you’ve been around a large family, you might find some of the scenes unrealistic – yet they are not. Or if you’re from a rather dysfunctional family like Katie is, you might find the Binder clan a bit fairytale unreal – but they aren’t.

As the Binder family and all the inlaws gather in Grandma and Grandpa Binder’s little cottage way up North, layers of sweetness, tenderness, joviality, joyfulness, playfulness, and lots of other things begin to emerge as the “normal” ebb and flow of Christmas at the Binders.

Bits and pieces remind me of Christmases past at my parents. And of Christmases with my own children. And then of Christmases with my grown children and grandchildren. But the Binders take it to yet another layer of loving interaction and caring.

Without giving away too much of the story, sufficie it to say that Grandpa Binder gives them a little scare and that takes the family to another layer of cooperation and caring.

This is a must read Christmas novella. Be sure you find a copy somewhere. You may want to get it early in the season so you have time to share it with someone else.
GIVEAWAY 
Begins November 10
ENDS November 25 @ 12:00 a.m. ET. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
Meet the Author: Cynthia Ruchti tells stories "hemmed in hope." She's the award-winning author of sixteen books and a frequent speaker for women's ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review from the Litfuse Publicity Group. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish (A Christmas Story for Pouty Preschoolers) by Deborah Diesen & illustrated by Dan Hanna [Review & Giveaway]


Ages 2-6 ~ Grades Pre K–1
ISBN 9780374355494
32 pages | $16.99 Hardcover
About the book: The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish holiday sequel to The New York Times bestselling Pout-Pout Fish series reminds young readers what being merry is all about.

The grumpiest fish in children’s literature is back with another case of “the dreary wearies.” This time, Mr. Fish, star of The New York Times bestselling Pout-Pout Fish series, is down in the dumps over holiday shopping. With a message for readers of all ages, The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Books | Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Ages 2-6) finds Mr. Fish so consumed with finding that perfect gift for each of his friends that he forgets the true meaning of the holidays.

When Mr. Fish—with his signature Pout-Pout Fish frown—comes up empty-handed, Miss Shimmer intervenes with a plan to make homemade gifts. He soon learns that it’s not about busting the budget or gifting the season’s hottest item, but giving from the heart. Together they experience the joy that comes from giving and sharing—the merriest gifts of all.

My thoughts: This is a cute book that deals with issues of  pouting and values that children need to learn not only at Christmas, but throughout the year. While the focus of this book is about Christmas gift giving, Mr. Fish really needs to learn his lesson about value in gift giving to his friends.
A gift should be big,
And a gift should be bright.
And a gift should be perfect-
Guaranteed to bring delight.
And a gift should have meaning
Plus a bit of bling-zing,
So I’ll shop till I drop
For each just-right thing!”
Really cute illustrations and a good lesson for the young and pouty and, as always, I love the rhyming books for the kids.

While I usually prefer and promote books that focus on the real meaning of Christmas which is faith-based, this is a cute book, good lesson, terrific illustrations and will be a great addition to the school library where it will soon repose.

BONUS 12-CITY BOOK TOUR: You're invited to meet the Pout-Pout Fish author and illustrator during the 12-city book tour, Nov. 14-21.
Author Deborah Diesen
November 14, 3pm - Square Books, Oxford, MS
November 16, 3:30pm - Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
November 18, 4pm - Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, FL
November 19, 7pm - Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA
November 20, 4pm - Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA
Illustrator Dan Hanna
November 15, 11am - WORD Books, Jersey City, NJ
November 16, 4pm - Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, KY
November 17, 4:30pm - Towne Book Center & Cafe, Collegeville, PA
November 18, 4:30pm - Cover to Cover, Columbus, OH
November 19, 4:30pm - Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest, IL
November 21, 12pm - Anderson’s Book Shop, Naperville, IL
November 21, 2pm - Anderson’s Book Shop, La Grange, IL
Learn more at www.poutpoutfish.com.
GIVEAWAY - SHORT
Begins November 14 ENDS November 21 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publicists on behalf of MacMilllan Kids books, author, and illustrator to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for the review. Giveaway copy is also provided by the publicist directly to the winner.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Goodnight Selfie by Scott Menchin, illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby [Review & Giveaway]


My thoughts: Phones that take pictures is not so new but it isn’t an old technology, either. The advent of the smartphone and its ability to take fantastic pictures ushered in an entirely new fascination that has captivated the minds and attention and consuming addiction of smart phone holders worldwide. So when a young girl (elementary age) inherits her brother’s castoff smart phone, she embarks on her own addition of taking her “selfie” pictures. 


She takes one hither and yonder, from up and from down, from sideways and backwards. She is fascinated. Addictively fascinated! And then it is bedtime. But she still wants to continue to take selfies. But sleep must come – for her and her phone. They both need to recharge their batteries.

The consummate addiction of the majority of today’s society with smartphone “selfies” is no respecter of age. You don’t have to be a grown up to pursue this addiction. As long as you have your “source” – the smartphone – you can become an addict. Of course, addition is not openly addressed in the picture book, but the subtle message is certainly there. We can become so consumed with this urge to click a “selfie” that reality takes a back seat.

So with the click of one final “selfie” our little friend puts it away and recharges her own battery with a bit of sleep. Perhaps another look at recharging batteries on a deeper level than a night’s sleep is called for. 


This is a cute book and children will love it. Hopefully, it won’t encourage more to become engrossed in the taking of “selfie” pictures.


About the book: Smile! Here comes one of the most memorable (and share-able) selfies of a generation.


“There I am! My first selfie!”

After the star of this story gets her brother’s hand-me-down camera-phone and a quick lesson in the “selfie,” there is no stopping her! Anything can be turned into a selfie, and a host of adventures and misadventures caught on camera prove her point. Turning the camera-phone on herself becomes a part of her every day, all day long. Until, that is, it’s time to call it a day. Turns out, camera-phones and kids alike need to recharge their batteries!
GIVEAWAY
Begins November 10 ENDS November 30 @ 12:00 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
No P.O. boxes, please!
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for the review. Giveaway copy is provided by the publisher and will be mailed by the publisher directly to the winner.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

'Seeking the Star' By Traci Borum [ Genre: Women's/Christian Cozy Fiction]

About the book: One December night, in the sleepy Cotswold village of Chilton Crosse, a drifter named Ben collapses on George and Mary Cartwright’s snow-covered doorstep. As Christmas cheer spreads throughout the village with a Dickens-themed festival, Mary nurses Ben back to health, but she becomes curious about the secrets he seems to carry.

On Christmas Eve, one of Ben’s secrets accidentally comes to light, forcing him to confront the darkness of his past and to rediscover the faith he once knew.

My thoughts: I hesitated to agree to read and review this book for a variety of reasons. However, since it is a short read (150+ page novella) and themed around Christmas (I do enjoy those sweet Christmas-novellas), I said I'd do it. When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised at the lovely cover. Professional! Artistic! Warm and cozy. The cover totally represents this warm-cozy read.

When I began reading I was immediately struck with the author's beautiful way with words spinning her story in a well-worded, relaxed yet flowing language, and with beautiful imagery. Hmmm.... I thought. I'm in for a treat! And I have not been disappointed.

As the synopsis indicates, this takes place in a small English village when dramatically a stranger collapses at the front door of an older couple's cottage. They (Biblically) take in the stranger amongst them and warm, shelter, tend, feed, clothe, and minister to him in a loving yet unobtrusive way.

Traci Borum's story rivals, in my opinion, Jan Karon's tales. There is a village full of loveable characters for the reader to get to know.

I can heartily recommend that this book to Chat With Vera's readers encouraging them to find a copy and read it over the holidays. It is a sweet, joyful, well-written story. I look forward to more from Traci Borum.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Traci-Borum-Author 
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/TraciAuthor
Red Adept Publishing: http://bit.ly/RAPSeekingStar 
CLICK HERE FOR TOUR SCHEDULE
Author information: Traci Borum is an insatiable bookworm whose first love is fiction.  As a little girl, she became mesmerized with books—with the textures, the smells, and most especially, the worlds created between the pages.  Years later, she discovered she could create her own worlds by writing.  She’s been scribbling away ever since, writing bits of poetry, articles, and especially fiction.

Traci Borum has been a Creative Writing teacher at a community college for the past ten years.  She's a native Texan and an Anglophile at heart.  She owns two "British" dogs—a Corgi and a Sheltie—and she’s completely addicted to Masterpiece Theater (must be those dreamy British accents!).  More than anything, she treasures the friendships in her life and adores her supportive family. Traci’s Blog: http://writerscorner-traci.blogspot.com/

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by the publisher to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.




B Is For Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner & illustrated by Elisa Kleven [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780824956745
Hardcover $16.99
About the book: B is for Bethlehem by Isabel Wilner, follows the letters of the alphabet to tell the story of the Nativity to young readers. The rich illustrations will depict the events, people, and places associated with the birth of Jesus.

My thoughts: Originally published in 1995, this is a 25-year anniversary edition. This is an absolutely beautiful book. The detail and rich colors are just a joy to see. The art is whimsical and yet reminiscent of Russian or Ukrainian folk art.
The classification of this book is Children's Poetry, Christmas Poetry, Christmas, Nativity and that it truly is. This is a reverent poetic portrayal of events and personages surrounding the birth of the Savior. The little couplets tell the sweet and rich story as no other alphabet book I've seen to-date.

I am delighted that they have published this 25-year Anniversary edition. Don't miss this one!


GIVEAWAY
Begins November 12 ENDS December 1 @ 12:00 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a copy by the publisher to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated. The publisher is providing a copy as a giveaway for one of my readers.

Casey’s Bright Red Christmas Written by Holly Dufek, Illustrated by Paul E. Nunn [Review & Giveaway]

From the farm-based children’s series “Casey & Friends” comes a special holiday release that reminds young readers of the importance of a helping hand.

Casey’s Bright Red Christmas is the latest installment to the series, which provides an educational and entertaining look at how farm equipment helps feed the world.

ISBN: 9781937747619
Hardcover ~ $14.99
About the book: It’s Christmas time at Happy Skies Farm! Tillus the worm, Big Red, Sammy and the rest of the team are excited to celebrate the season. But Casey the farmer is busy working: feeding animals, repairing fences and planning for the year ahead. With so much to do, Casey wonders if she’ll have time to prepare for the holidays. That’s when Tillus and the team unite to make this Christmas extra special for their busy friend.

Published by Octane Press, known for their award-winning tractor books, “Casey & Friends” uses photos of CASE IH equipment in real farming situations with cartoon characters to explain how modern farm equipment works in a factual and fun way. Author Holly Dufek, a seasoned educator and national curriculum writer, joins Paul Nunn, Licensed Artist for Disney and Lucas Film, to help kids make the connection with the farm equipment they see in the countryside and the food on table.

Vera's thoughts: This is my second opportunity to venture onto Casey's farm and see what is going on. I have found the Casey books an entertaining and educational read for young children. It's Christmas time on Casey's farm and something happens to cause Christmas almost not to happen....

As with all farmers, routine chores don't stop for Casey just because there are Christmasy things that need doing. So what happens when other stuff gets in the way of Casey doing the Christmasy things? And then on top of that, Casey gets sick.  The story is about friends who work together helping a sick friend enjoy Christmas even though she is sick.

I'm passing this book along to my grands (who loved the last one!) and I am sure it will be a pleaser.
GIVEAWAY
Begins November 12 ENDS November 29 @ 12:00 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
More about “Casey & Friends” books at CLICK HERE
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publicist PRBytheBook to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review. Giveaway copy is provided by publicist and mailed directly to winner.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Presentation of Wreath Ceremony at the American Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

I recently retired from Alamance Christian School in Graham, NC. I had three grandchildren graduate from ACS. Seeing this video of the current Junior Class Officers participating in the laying of the wreath on the American Tomb of the Unknown Soldier fills my heart with joy and thanksgiving.

The First Christmas by Carol Heyer (board book) [Review & Giveaway]


  • ISBN-13: 978-0824919658
About the book: The rich acrylic paintings of best-selling author and artist Carol Heyer are now presented in board book form, along with a simplified retelling of the biblical story of the Nativity. Here, young readers will be introduced to the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, including the journey to Bethlehem, the shepherds in the field, and the appearance of the Wise Men. Ages: 2 - 5

My thoughts: A beautiful and artistic presentation of The First Christmas when the Son of God was born as a wee baby in Bethlehem. Carol Heyer has realistically illustrated the events of this unfathomable gift of God to man, and in simple, everyday prose retold the ever wonderful story.

Originally published several years ago as a hardcover book, it is now available in this small board book just right for small children. This edition is intended for children ages 2 to 5. A sweet gift for that small child or as an addition to the family stash of children's books.
GIVEAWAY
Begins November 11 ENDS December 1 @ 12:00 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a copy by the publisher to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated. The publisher is providing a copy as a giveaway for one of my readers.

Glamulet Giveaway of 100 FREE Pre-Sale Christmas Charm Sets during November Pre-Order Sale Event


In October I shared with my readers the fabulous Glamulet Pink October Breast Cancer Awareness promotion. This was a  tremendous success thanks to all who purchased some of this nice bling and supported Breast Cancer Awareness. Now on to other things......

A fabulous holiday event! 


About the brand: The Charms Brand Glamulet was launched in 2014 to offer to every woman a new range of trendy and elegant quality jewelry at an affordable price. Glamulet believes that every woman should be allowed to express herself and to feel pretty. They design glamorous Charms and Bracelets and use quality materials to manufacture them. Each woman can mix and match the Charms to create her own Bracelet.

Glamulet Giveaway & Pre-Sale Christmas Deal and Discounts

Glamulet is giving away a set of  Pre-Sell Christmas Charms with a value of $75 to 100 winners!!!! Entry widget is below... and you could be one of the 100. Fabulous! Didn't I say?

And for the next few days, the Pre-Sale discounts will be in place. The Glamulet website has these charms discounted for the pre-sale and Chat With Vera readers will receive an additional 15% discount.

Here are some of the lovely Christmas Charms.... check them out.






Here is how it works..... Glamulet Pre-Sale

You can save as much as 50% if you buy early. Plus if you use my discount code of 15%, you can easily save a bunch!
  • 15% Discount for the month of November for Chat With Vera readers using my pre-sale code govera15
  • Early Access to these charms
  • Glamulet's special Pre-Sale Discounted prices. Pre- sale price is as follows:


  • First 20 customers - 50% discount
  • 21st to 99th - 25% discount 
  • 100th 10% discount
  • All Pre-Ordered Charms shipped on November 20.
    1. Remember Chat With Vera readers receive 15% more discount using the govera15 code at checkout.
    2. You get a chance at winning one of the sets of Christmas charms valued at $75. Winners announced at end of Pre-Sale Event!
    DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored post via through Brandbacker. Glamulet is the sponsor and organizer of the pre-sale event and giveaway.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2015

    Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen illustrator [Review & Givaway]

    ISBN: 9780763662295
    Candlewick Press $16.99 Hardcover

    With perfect pacing, the multi-award-winning, New York Times best-selling team of Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen dig down for a deadpan tale full of visual humor.


    Sam and Dave are on a mission. A mission to find something spectacular. So they dig a hole. And they keep digging. And they find . . . nothing. Yet the day turns out to be pretty spectacular after all. Attentive readers will be rewarded with a rare treasure in this witty story of looking for the extraordinary —  and finding it in a manner you’d never expect.

    My thoughts: Knowing little boys, they do "stuff" and one of the "stuff" things they like to do is adventure into the unknown and what is more unknown than what lies underneath their feet. So Sam and Dave decide they are going to dig a hole. They are going to dig a hole looking for something spectacular. No, they're not looking for the typical fishing worms so many boys (and men) are wont to do, they are just going for the big, the spectacular, the unknown good stuff.

    So with shovels in hand (and illustrator Jon Klassen with pen and water colors in hand) they venture forth in the backyard. Their trusty dog is with them all the way. And the cat is observing on the sidelines.
    What is so neat and nifty about this dirt-encrusted (or so it appears from the colors) picture book is that they are going first down, then changing directions, then changing again. They stop and drink their chocolate milk and eat their animal crackers (while sitting deep in the hole and fully encrusted with dirt). They get tired. They keep digging. And finally they go to sleep. And dream.....

    There are just a few words to this delightful adventure of two little boys (I had boys of my own!) and there are illustrations that are stark, replete with droll humour and eye rolls. And there is the spectacular - there in the dirt - there to be seen or to be missed. But alas I won't give away the ending.

    I just wonder how many little boys have been inclined to go forth and dig a hole or to dig more holes since lingering on the pages of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole.

    I can see why this book has won so many awards including the cherished Caldecott Honor Book, the E.B. White Read-aloud Award, New York Times Best-Seller and Notable Book, etc.  I recommend this book for libraries and home libraries as well.

    GIVEAWAY
    Candlewick Press is providing a giveaway copy
    Begins November 10 
    ENDS December 1 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
    Open to US & Canada addresses only!
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. I was not compensated for this review nor was I required to render a positive review. Giveaway copy is provided directly to winner by publisher.

    Goodnight Selfie by Scott Menchin, illustrated by Pierre Collet-Derby [Giveaway]


    Smile! Here comes one of the most memorable (and share-able) selfies of a generation.


    “There I am! My first selfie!”

    After the star of this story gets her brother’s hand-me-down camera-phone and a quick lesson in the “selfie,” there is no stopping her! Anything can be turned into a selfie, and a host of adventures and misadventures caught on camera prove her point. Turning the camera-phone on herself becomes a part of her every day, all day long. Until, that is, it’s time to call it a day. Turns out, camera-phones and kids alike need to recharge their batteries!
    GIVEAWAY
    Begins November 10 ENDS November 30 @ 12:00 a.m. ET
    Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
    No P.O. boxes, please!
    a Rafflecopter giveaway 
    Read Chat With Vera's - CLICK HERE!

    An Endless Christmas by Cynthia Ruchti {Giveaway}

    About the book: Christmas takes a very different turn when the guests of honor break up instead of announcing their engagement. Trapped with his family, they learn that love looks different than either imagined.

    Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last. This year, their grandson Micah is planning to ask his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him so they can celebrate with the whole family. But things go very wrong when she says, "no." Now they are stuck. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.
    Watch for Chat With Vera's review November 15!
    GIVEAWAY 
    Begins November 10
    ENDS November 25 @ 12:00 a.m. ET. 
     Open to USA addresses only.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway 
    Meet the Author: Cynthia Ruchti tells stories "hemmed in hope." She's the award-winning author of sixteen books and a frequent speaker for women's ministry events. She serves as the Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers, where she helps retailers, libraries, and book clubs connect with the authors and books they love. She lives with her husband in Central Wisconsin.

    Sunday, November 8, 2015

    Owls: Our Most Charming Bird by Matt Sewell "Audubon with a sense of humor"

    My thoughts: In Owls Our Most Charming Bird by Matt Sewell there is a charming array of these nocturnal birds of prey. The book is a sort-of spot-on treatise on the individual owls with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. The illustrations are quirky and factual. Folks, let’s think “Audubon with a sense of humor.”

    Frankly, I really like the book and learned quite a bit about these birds both large and small. I had no way of knowing prior to this little book that there was such a variety of these birds.

    The sizes of owls range from the Eurasian Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) on page 70 which is huge to the tiniest Elf Owl (Micrathene whitneyi) on page 100. There are some interesting facts about where in the world the owls live, their how the look (size, feathers, eyes, etc.) and how they  pursue their prey - they are hunters, you know.

    As I said earlier, the author and illustrator, Matt Sewell, brings his sense of humor to the book as he deftly illustrates each of these owls bringing them to life with his watercolors. Then he describes them with quirky bits of information that will sometimes tickle your funny bone!

    Who is this little book for? Well, I can see my grandchildren (preteens and older) enjoying it. I can also see anyone who is a birder enjoying it since it brings the light side of birding to them. I can also see it placed on a coffee table for folks to just sit and read a page or two here and there. If you’re not already an owl lover, you just might get converted.

    At the back is a “Spotting and Jotting” section where each owl is again pictured with a checkbox; so as you find the owls, you can check them off and maybe even make a short note about the owl.

    I love it and I recommend it. This will make a great little gift for a birder or anyone who just likes owls.
    I captured this owl image from Matt Sewell's Twitter post. Aren't they cute.

    About the book: An enchanting illustrated guide to owl species of the world.

    In this beautiful and highly giftable art book, artist and ornithologist Matt Sewell captures 50 species of the world's most evocative bird: the owl. Using pop-art watercolors and accompanied by witty and irreverent descriptions, Sewell expresses the individual characters of owls as never before. From tiny elf owls to huge Eurasian eagle owls, from the haunting barn owl to the elegant great horned owl, these wise, magical birds are otherworldly in their striking colors and stature. It's not just birdwatchers who are obsessed: Owls are a perennial favorite in pop culture, decorating, and among children as well as nature lovers and serious birders. From David Sedaris's Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls to Harry Potter's pet Hedwig, and throwback interest in Twin Peaks (which is returning to TV in 2016) and its trademark spooky owls, these birds are here to stay.

    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the Blogging for Books program to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

    "Tea With Vera" and the lovely Imperial Palace Fine China English Tea Set from Enjoying Tea Company [Review & Giveaway]

    There is something very special about a good cup of tea. 

    Some folks prefer just one variety, but I tend to enjoy a host of different teas. I also tire of one flavor after a while and enjoy switching back and forth between green tea or black tea and, of course, Oolong. Then there is a plethora of versions of each of these.

    Lovely Creamer and Covered Sugar Dish
    Imperial Palace Fine China English Tea Set
    Recently I discovered the Enjoying Tea Company and their fabulous variety of teas. You can read my review by clicking HERE. I truly love their tea. I have not yet had a variety I did not enjoy from their coffers.

    EnjoyingTea.com also has a beautiful line of tea accoutrements that will please most everyone. Modern tea sets, tea mugs, English tea sets, a variety of teapot styles, etc. So many pretty items!

    If you have someone on your gifting list that is a tea lover, I believe you can find the just right gift at EnjoyingTea.com. But today I want to share an absolutely beautiful tea set that they have sent me. (Keep reading because there is also a set being provided by EnjoyingTea to one of Chat With Vera's readers.)
    Delicate tea cup and saucer
    with creamer and covered sugar
    Imperial Palace Fine China English Tea Set

    I absolutely love to indulge my preference for a good cup of tea with an enhanced experience of drinking it from an elegant, bone china tea cup. The Imperial Palace Fine China English Tea Set does just that for me. Today I enjoyed a cup of tea in one of these lovely, delicate rose-patterned tea cups. The china is smooth, curved just right to sip a cup of warm tea. Smooth tea in a smooth cup. Yummy!

    There is just something special about the grace one experiences when elegant dishes are used at tea time. I highly recommend the Imperial Palace Fine China English Tea Set from EnjoyingTea.com.
    Tea for One? Teapot, tea cup and saucer, and
    creamer and covered sugar
    Here is another selection of some of my tea cups and they are pictured with teas from EnjoyingTea.com. Read.....Tea with Vera
    Giveaway includes: 1 teapot, 6 teacups, 6 saucers, 1 creamer, & 1 sugar dish
    SAVE - DISCOUNT CODE - blue until Dec. 31, 2015

    Imperial Palace Fine China English Tea Set (product information from website)

    Enjoy your tea in this English style tea set. This fine china English tea set with rose patterns has the whiteness and translucency accompany by English grace and elegance. You can use our complete set to prepare the perfect English breakfast or English afternoon tea party. The tea set includes the following:

    • 1 teapot (capacity: 650 ml or 22 fl oz) (dimension: 5 1/2" wid, 8" len, 5 1/2" ht)
    • 6 teacups (capacity: 120 ml or 4 fl oz) (dimension: 4" wid, 5" len, 2 1/2" ht)
    • 6 saucers (dimension: 5 3/4" dia, 3/4" ht)
    • 1 cream holder (capacity: 150 ml or 5 fl oz) (dimension: 3 1/2" wid, 4 1/2" len, 3" ht)
    • 1 sugar holder (capacity: 150 ml or 5 fl oz) (dimension: 3 1/4" dia, 4" ht)
    • Internal filter at the end of the teapot spout
    SAVE - DISCOUNT CODE - blue until Dec. 31, 2015
    GIVEAWAY
    Begins November 8 ENDS November 28 @ 12:00 a.m. ET
    Open to USA addresses only.
    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary tea set to facilitate this review. 
    Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review nor was I required to write a positive review. Giveaway is provided by EnjoyingTea.com and will be shipped directly to the winner.

    Saturday, November 7, 2015

    Vendetta (The Nikki Boyd Files) by Lisa Harris {#BookReview & Family Christian #Giveaway}


    About the book: No one needs to push Nikki Boyd to excel on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force. The case of her own missing sister, still unsolved after ten years, is the driving force in her work. When a Polaroid photo of a missing girl shows up at a crime scene, Nikki quickly recognizes similarities to the past. The closer she gets to the abductor, the more she feels this case has become personal, and she is not the hunter . . . but the hunted.

    With this explosive first book in The Nikki Boyd Files, award-winning author Lisa Harris takes you on a fast-paced pursuit of justice that will have you holding your breath until the heart-stopping finish.

    My thoughts: When you crack the spine of a Lisa Harris book, you immediately begin an exciting journey enveloped in suspense and mystery. Vendetta is no different from her other books in the entertainment arena because it is a good read from the first crack.

    As Nikki and her deceased best friend's husband rappel over the edge of a cliff in a wilderness trek meant to take Tyler's memory off the one-year anniversary of his wife's death, Nikki's life is literally hanging by a thread. Their day is interrupted with the message from her supervisor asking her help with a missing person case. Time is of the essence and Nikki is a willing and skilled investigator.

    Crumbs of evidence can either be real or faked but follow them they must. Clues lead to the beautiful Smoky Mountain Park which is a wilderness covering a vast area.

    As book one in the new Nikki Boyd File series, Vendetta will provide a good read. It is a clean and exciting read with a touch of faith and a touch of budding romance. Good read for teens and adults.
    GIVEAWAY
    Begins November 7 
    ENDS November 28 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
    Open to US & Canada addresses only!
    Family Christian allows only 1 Appreciation Certificate per person/address won per month
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Revell a division of the Baker Publishing Group to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review. Giveaway is provided compliments of Family Christian and will be mailed directly to the winner by Family Christian.

    Thursday, November 5, 2015

    Frozen Wild: How Animals survive in the Coldest Places on Earth by Jim Arnosky [Review & Giveaway]

    ISBN: 9781454910251 - $14.95 ($16.95 Can)
    Sterling Children's Books ~ Ages 6-10
    About the book: Young explorers and animal enthusiasts are in for a treat with Frozen Wild: How Animals survive in the Coldest Places on Earth (Sterling Children’s Books, Sept. 2015).

    Kids can bundle up and join award-winning author, illustrator, and naturalist Jim Arnosky as he ventures into the cold to follow otters, beavers, moose, polar bears, penguins, fur seals, and other fascinating creatures to learn how they cope with the frigid weather. Stunning art and five magnificent foldouts reveal worlds under the ice and up to the farthest, frostiest reaches of the globe, capturing fascinating creatures in their natural habitats.

    My thoughts: As Winter begins to close in, creatures of every description begin to prepare themselves for what lies ahead. As humans, adults and children alike, we have managed to secure warm housing, food aplenty, and adequate clothing. But what about the animals in these cold climates? Ever wonder just how they manage to survive?

    The author and illustrator, Jim Arnosky, has a wonderful book replete with fold-out pages that show just how some of these creatures live and thrive in the sub-sub-cold. His illustrations are particularly beautifully, detailed, and articulately accurate.

    Details of animals going under the ice for survival, of migrating or swimming in Arctic waters with waterproof fur or extra thick layer of fat (blubber), growing extra fur or downy layers to insulate them from the snow and cold. Amazing! Mr. Arnosky illustrates the portion of the globe where these creatures live and informational details such as "no actual pole at the North Pole, it is a measurement." Or actual degrees Fahrenheit at the South Pole. (If we think "0" degrees Fahrenheit is cold, try -135.8 degrees Fahrenheit.)

    The "Author's Note" at the back of the book is enlightening with facts as well and he says, "From pole to pole,our beautiful blue planet is an oasis of life spinning slightly tilted through space. And it is that tilt creating our seasons that has fostered a diversity of interconnected living things that we are only beginning to truly understand."

    A book Chat With Vera highly recommends and encourages parents and librarians everywhere to obtain a copy.
    GIVEAWAY
    Begins November 5 ENDS November 25 @ 12:00 a.m. ET
    Open to USA addresses only.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    Author/illustrator: Artist and naturalist Jim Arnosky has been honored for his overall contribution to literature for children by the Eva L. Gordon Award and the Washington Post/Children’s Book Guild Award for nonfiction. Many of his books have been chosen as ALA Notable Books, including Wild Tracks! A Guide to Nature’s Footprints and Thunder Birds: Nature’s Flying Predators, which was also included on the Bluebonnet Master List for the state of Texas. Jim lives in South Ryegate, VT. Please visit jimarnosky.com to learn more.

    Images in review are reprinted with permission from Frozen Wild © 2015 by Jim Arnosky, Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Illustrations by Jim Arnosky.

    DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy from Sterling Children's Books on behalf of the author to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.