Thursday, September 21, 2017

Pattan's Pumpkin - A Traditional Flood Story from Southern India by Chitra Soundar illustrated by Frané Lessac [Review & Giveaway - 4 winners, USA/CANADA]

ISBN: 978-0763692742
Ages 4-8
My thoughts: Summer has ended. A few yellow leaves are fluttering down out of the towering trees here in North Carolina. Sure, we'll have some more really hot days, but basically the weather is about to turn and we're about to get a nip in the air that says Fall is here and Winter is on its way. And as we go to shop for groceries and other sundry items, we can't help but notice the vast amount of hyped-up Fall foliage, real and artificial pumpkins, and even some Merry Christmas items peeking through the silk and plastic signs saying, "Fall has come, spend your money here."

But all things Pumpkin don't necessarily mean pumpkin pie, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bread, and trick or treat. No, in the South of India there is a story they tell. It is that area's version of the Great Flood that is recounted in the Judeo/Christian Bible where Noah built an ark that saved his family and pairs of all the animals on the earth before the rains and flood came that destroyed everything that wasn't in the ark.

In the Irular tribe in Southern India version as told in Pattan's Pumpkin, which is a children's picture book for ages 4 to 8, the story is adapted from the "original" where a great gourd was the "ship."  This is a cute story and farmer Pattan is a caring individual who is trying to save people, animals, and plants from the destruction of the flood.

Cultures around the world have varying versions of a great flood which speaks to a global covering flood as told in The Bible (Judeo/Christian). This children's picture book is a good introduction to the Indian culture and the stories that are passed down through the ages.

About the book: A vibrant variation on the traditional flood myth from the Irular tribe in Southern India.

When Pattan finds a yellow-flower vine wilting in his valley, he replants and cares for it, watching as a pumpkin appears and grows taller than the goats, taller than the elephants, as tall as the very mountains. When a terrible storm rages across the valley, Pattan wonders if perhaps his pumpkin can save the seeds and grains and saplings, the goats and birds and bison, and protect them all as the storm clouds burst and the waters rise. Frané Lessac’s brilliantly hued artwork is a feast for the eyes, while Chitra Soundar’s thoughtful retelling is a fascinating example of the kinds of stories told the world over — and the differences that make each version unique.

Begins September 22
Ends October 2 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA/CANADA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Candlewick Press will provide and ship winner's copies.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

National Geographic Kids Ultimate Space Atlas by Carolyn DeCristofano [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781426328022
$12.99 Softcover - 160 pages
My thoughts:  Last week in the news they were reporting on the long-term mission to Saturn by the Cassini Spacecraft and it's final images beamed back to Earth as it crashed into Saturn. This was a mind-boggling achievement that began October 1997 and concluded September 2017 - two decades of space exploration. So it is quite timely to have an "Ultimate Space Atlas" from National Geographic Kids so they can learn about this fabulous and enthralling universe in which planet Earth abides.

The focus in the book is understanding the solar system and outer space and with many details explained in understandable terms for the pre-teen and older individual. The section on Saturn is especially interesting and appropriate right now given the achievement of the Cassini spacecraft. There are pages of information and images garnered from the Cassini mission.

But this is not just a book of facts, pictures, and statistics, it includes a terrific glossary and some fun and games pages. The illustrations and actual photographs are simply outstanding.

If there is a kid in your life that shows any interest at all in science, this is a terrific book to get for him or her. It is appropriate for ages 8 to 12 but I actually can see teens and adults enjoying and gathering information from which they springboard to further research and study. A good book to have!

About the book:  Blast into space to explore our solar system and beyond. This out-of-this-world atlas takes readers through maps of the solar system, the Milky Way, and deep space, giving them a close look at and locations of planets, supernovas, and other universes. Sky maps will help kids spot these objects in the night sky and maps of planets and our solar system give the kind of incredible detail that National Geographic is known for. It's the perfect book for space fans and budding astronauts.
Begins September 21
ENDS October 12 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic Kids to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given.

Rule of Law by Randy Singer - Thriller/Suspense from Tyndale Publishing [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781496418166
$16.99 - Softcover - 456 pages
Tyndale House Publishing
My thoughts:  In America we are a country of laws and the "rule of law" is paramount to keeping our governing persons operating within the parameters established for their positions. Their decisions must be within the scope of the law in which they are to operate.

Anticipating a book written by an attorney entitled Rule of Law will definitely whet one's appetite for a legal procedural. Randy Singer's books have always been top-notch reads and he ranks amongst the best legal suspense writers of today. As anticipated, Rule of Law is loaded with development of court cases, deposition of witnesses, various courts scenes (including the US Supreme Court), and how attorneys reason through their statements for court.

But Rule of Law is not just about the court room and the attorney's work, it begins with the powerful scenario of a Seal Team mission and it's outcome. The story has a powerful backplot where the extent of the most powerful individual in the World, the U.S. President, and her chief of staff and the head of the CIA to wage war unsanctioned by Congress is exposed. How much freedom to work in the shadows does the CIA have? How far can the U.S. President go in ordering missions that are acts of war without the sanction of the Congress?

This book is long. This book is fascinating. This book is a terrific read. I recommend you find the time to settle in and read this story. It could happen.

About the book: What did the president know? And when did she know it?

For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare mission ordered by the president, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. The Houthi rebels in Yemen had captured an American journalist and a member of the Saudi royal family. Their executions were scheduled for Easter Sunday. The SEAL team would break them out.

But when the mission results in spectacular failure, the finger-pointing goes all the way to the top.

Did the president play political games with the lives of U.S. service members?

Paige Chambers, a determined young lawyer, has a very personal reason for wanting to know the answer. The case she files will polarize the nation and test the resiliency of the Constitution. The stakes are huge, the alliances shaky, and she will be left to wonder if the saying on the Supreme Court building still holds true.

Equal justice under law.

It makes a nice motto. But will it work when one of the most powerful people on the planet is also a defendant?
Begins September 20
ENDS October 2 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned more than 10 legal thrillers and was recently a finalist with John Grisham and Michael Connelly for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"---part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his website at
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group to facilitate a review. Giveaway copy is provided by publicist and publisher, Tyndale House and mailed directly to the winner.

Love You Always by Eileen Spinelli [Review & Giveaway]

Hardcover - Ages  4 - 7
ISBN: 978-0824956868
Published: WorthyKids/Ideals
My thoughts:  This gentle and lovely little book exudes joyful living and encourages little ones to know and accept that they are loved. They are loved always and by a host of people. Their mama, their father, their grandparents, and on and on.

The love is there even though they are not always nice and sweet. Love is for always.

I am so encouraged by the joyful illustrations that Gillian Flint has presented using black pen lines with soft hues of gentle watercolors. The joy is in the action and in the facial expressions of the characters. Pictured are a variety of individual grown ups and children. The children range from blonds to darker skinned curly heads.

Eileen Spinelli uses simple rhymes that roll easily off the tongue with a vocabulary that young listeners will understand. I like the concept of the child being a leaf on the family tree and that family members and those outside the immediate family are included in the range of people who Love You Always. A charming book.

About the book: A love poem to a child from all the people whose love surrounds him or her

A child is a treasured leaf on a family tree, surrounded by love from mom, dad, doting grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends too. This sweet, reassuring picture book from Eileen Spinelli acknowledges the whole tree -- the many who are invested in a child's life -- with expressions of unconditional love from each. Heartwarming verse and charming artwork will make this book a must-buy for baby showers, birthdays, and other occasions.

(NOTE: Dark shading on images in this review are fault of Vera's Pictures. Sometimes my pictures just don't quite make it right.)
Begins September 20
Ends October 3 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to Continental USA only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author Bio: Eileen Spinelli spent Saturdays at the public library as a child, and it was there that she decided to become a writer. She’s authored more than fifty children’s books, including Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch; The Best Story; and Two to Cuddle. Eileen lives in Media, Pennsylvania. When she and her husband, Jerry, who’s also an author, are not writing, they are hanging out with their grandkids (30 and counting), playing Scrabble, reading, watching old movies, and raising Monarch butterflies.

Illustrator Bio: Gillian Flint has had a passion for drawing and creating characters for as long as she can remember, so a career in illustration was a natural path for her to take. Her work has been published in the UK, USA, and Australia for clients such as Highlights, Five Mile Press, OUP, and Little Bee Books (book forthcoming). She enjoys using watercolors, crayons, ink, and digital illustration to create a variety of artistic styles. In her spare time, Gillian enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and pottering about in the garden on sunny days.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by WorthyKids/Ideals to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own, alone and freely given. Winner's copy is provided by and shipped directly to winner by WorthyKids/Ideals.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Very Thankful Prayer by Bonnie Rickner Jensen & published by Thomas Nelson

My thoughts:  Have you noticed a few leaves already tinted yellow or orange beginning to tumble from the trees ? I have. It is a reminder that even though the days are warm, sunny, and so pleasant that Fall is just around the corner with nippy mornings and a foretaste of the cold of Winter.

In A Very Thankful Prayer young readers are taken through the day being filled with a "thankful heart." Being thankful for the seasons and pumpkins, coats and farmers, sunshine and apples.... and so much more. A delightful traipse through a child's day encouraging him or her to be so very thankful and to pray their thanks.

I would highly encourage those who value prayer to share copies of this little book with the little ones in their lives. Perhaps a Fall or Thanksgiving gift would be a nice time to do so.

About the book: Every day I wake up with a happy, thankful heart.

From watching the leaves fall to picking pumpkins from the patch, from sharing a Thanksgiving meal with loved ones to learning how to give—there’s so much to be thankful for! Join these adorable animals as they say a prayer of thanks to God, who gives us every good thing.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook reviewers program on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishers and the author. I was not required to render a positive review. Opinions are my own, alone and freely given.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton (Christian historical fiction) [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN 978-1-60142-994-0
Release date: August 29, 2017
My thoughts:    As I turned the pages of Many Sparrows, I once again found Lori Benton's storytelling to be enthralling, historically compelling, and awash in the faith that sustains. She reveals the strength and weaknesses and unspeakable trials that were faced in the push westward.

Clare is a young woman born of refinement in the coastal Virginia colony. Married, she found herself bereft of comforts, wealth, refinement as she is compelled to accompany her husband, Philip, as he goes from pillar to post never settling down and never accomplishing anything. The story opens as they are in a westward bound wagon with a few worldly goods with their young son. Clare is nearing the end of her pregnancy when Philip decides to go back, alone, to seek help.

As a woman reading this story, I found myself broken hearted for Clare who was so sorely tested in mind, body, and spirit. She even had to trust herself into the care and keeping of a strange man who happens along the trail and finds her in desperate need of assistance.

As the story progresses, this stranger-frontiersman, Mr. Ring, leads her through hostile Indian territory in search for her son, guides her in the manner in which she should behave in the presence of the Shawnees, and reveals his own reliance on God.

This is a story that compels the reader to immerse themselves into. It is one on which to dwell on the complexities of human emotions - those of the white settlers and those of the native Indians. There is such sadness and broken hearted emotions rippling throughout. The reader will come away with a better appreciation of earlier people who lived in these United States for what they endured and how many found the faith that sustains.

I consider Lori Benton to be a master of historical fiction and I highly recommend Many Sparrows.

About the book: Either she and her children would emerge from that wilderness together, or none of them would…

In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.
When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son...especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do—be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

About the author:  Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn't writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards,The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, Christy-nominee; The Wood's Edge, and A Flight of Arrows. (all reviewed on Chat With Vera) Learn more at
Begins September 19
ENDS October 9 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary Advance Reader Copy from the Blogging for Books review program on behalf of the publisher, Waterbrook, to facilitate this review. I was not compensated nor required to render a positive review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy is provided by the Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher and/or author.

God Made the World By Debbie Rivers-Moore & Emma Haines

ISBN: 9780825445200
$11.99 | Rag book
Kregel Children's Books
My thoughts:  Years ago when my grown children were tiny, I was delighted to obtain a little cloth book. It was fabulous. Soft enough for them to take to bed. Washable. Sturdy. Wonderful for little hands to hold and carry around. A grand way to introduce love of books to the smallest.
I love that God made the World is crinkly and squishy. Lovely softness and soft colors. The fabric has a almost silky feel to it. The text is simple and different from the usual "God made the World" ideas. Simply stated God made.... the oceans, the skies, the meadows, the woods, my friends. and ME! Baby can learn very early that this beautiful World in which baby now lives was made by God and so was "baby/me."

Lovely. I recommend this for those upcoming baby shower gifts, Christmas, or just "Auntie loves you" gifts.

About the book: Charming illustrations help infants and toddlers discover God's natural world, from dolphins to foxes to kittens! This squishy fabric book features crinkle cloth for sensory development and hours of baby fun. God Made the World also includes a child-safety mirror so baby can see herself and know she's a part of God's design.

For parents, a Velcro closure keeps the book shut, and a hanging tab can attach the book to a stroller, purse, or toy so it can go wherever they do. It comes packaged in a bag to keep it clean and includes a header card for easy hanging display.

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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gathering the Threads by CindyL Woodsmall [Giveaway]

My comments: I highly recommend this author and this book. Writing craft is excellent and story is stirring. Read my full review at Vera's review - Gathering the Threads

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

Gathering the Threads is the third and final novel in the Amish of Summer Grove series."

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

Learn more - read an excerpt - purchase a copy

A copy of Gathering the Threads
Begins September 15
Ends October 2 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received no compensation or book for this posting. The winner's copy is provided via the Litfuse Publicity Group and publisher and will be shipped directly to the winner.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Heat Holders® The Warmest Thermal Sock! [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

Cold feet are not fun and I've experienced cold feet all my life. I can't imagine being out-of-doors participating in outdoor sports, work, or even taking long walks. The cold just stops me cold!

Around the house in the winter months, I wear my slippers and a pair of cotton socks. Still cold feet! And then I found the brand "Heat Holders®" thermal socks. I saw them online and the pair that caught my eye was the lovely plum colored pair with a fold down top and non-slip bottoms. These say "lady-of-the-house" in quite a lovely way. I can hardly wait for the cold months to arrive so I can experience warm feet tucked away in these lovelies.
Ladies Solid Lounge Socks with Heart Grip
But Heat Holders is not just about a pretty pair of socks. There are some serious needs for socks that actually perform well in the bitter cold and protect one's feet and these qualify. Heat Holders has an entire line of socks for men, women, and children that will take you from mucking out the barn to snowshoeing in the Rockies to sitting in a deer stand or trudging along that 10-mile run. Your feet will be comfy warm. Why?......

How do they feel? They feel wonderfully soft, fluffy, cushiony. Wonderful for lounging around the house on a cold evening. Or comforting to tuck into those winter shoes or boots and keep your feet nice and warm.

How do they wash? You can wash them by hand or in the washer and can air dry (line dry) or toss in the dryer.

Left to right: Ladies Solid Lounge Socks with Heart Grip & TOG rating 2.34 $17.99;
Ladies Twist LITE™ Socks $12.99 TOG rating 1.6; Ladies Ankle Slipper Socks $11.99 TOG rating 2.34

What about the "thermal rating"? According to the manufacturer, "TOG means Thermal Overall Grade. It is a scientific test that measures the thermal (heat retaining) capacity of fabric. Heat Holders® thermal socks, when tested using this standard, rate TOG 2.34*. This is 7x warmer than cotton socks and almost 3x warmer than ordinary thermal socks! *Heat Holders® LITE™ socks rated 1.6 Tog" (from product website) Please note in the information image above that the weaving technique and brushing also are a source of their high TOG rating. Note, too, the moisture breathing abilities.

Where can you find these products? Online for best variety: Heat Holders (Tip: sometimes there is a percentage discount and there is free shipping with a $25 order) or simply "Google" it and you'll find a bunch of brick-and-mortar stores that have them - even the mega stores totally geared for the outdoorsman. Awesome!

The three pair I received are varied, but not nearly as varied as the plethora of socks for kids, ladies, and men that they have on their website. Such a variety! Cute socks. Pretty socks. No-nonsense socks! You name it.

I love it! What a great idea for Christmas gifts and everyone needs new socks at Christmas time.

Want to try and win this set of 3 pairs? Use the entry form below. One of Chat With Vera's readers will receive these lovelies.
3 Winners each win 3-pair-prize
Begins September 13
ENDS October 5 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a set of three pairs to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and gladly and freely given. I was not compensated for this review not required to post positive remarks.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Rule of Law by Randy Singer [Giveaway]

What did the president know? And when did she know it?

For the members of SEAL Team Six, it was a rare mission ordered by the president, monitored in real time from the Situation Room. The Houthi rebels in Yemen had captured an American journalist and a member of the Saudi royal family. Their executions were scheduled for Easter Sunday. The SEAL team would break them out.

But when the mission results in spectacular failure, the finger-pointing goes all the way to the top.

Did the president play political games with the lives of U.S. service members?

Paige Chambers, a determined young lawyer, has a very personal reason for wanting to know the answer. The case she files will polarize the nation and test the resiliency of the Constitution. The stakes are huge, the alliances shaky, and she will be left to wonder if the saying on the Supreme Court building still holds true.

Equal justice under law.

It makes a nice motto. But will it work when one of the most powerful people on the planet is also a defendant?
Begins September 20
ENDS October 2 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Watch for Chat With Vera's review on September 20.
Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed, award-winning author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned more than 10 legal thrillers and was recently a finalist with John Grisham and Michael Connelly for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal. Randy runs his own law practice and has been named to Virginia Business magazine's select list of "Legal Elite" litigation attorneys. In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"---part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School and, through his church, is involved with ministry opportunities in India. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his website at
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group to facilitate a review. Giveaway copy is provided by publicist and publisher, Tyndale House and mailed directly to the winner.

Friday, September 8, 2017

God Our Maker Series: God Paints the World & God Loves the World by Gary Bower [Review & Giveaway]

Find it on Amazon

God Paints the World takes children on a tour of God’s colorful creation. Each spread groups nature’s animals and objects by color, such as yellow dandelions, a shining sun, and chirping finches; and brown squirrels, trees, and crunchy nuts. Parents will love this early concept board book that teaches little ones about colors and the God who created them.

My thoughts: Gary Bower continues to amaze me with his ability to create wonderful children's books. His rhyme is terrific and his gift for connecting each color with objects or critters wonderful. The rhythm of his verses is lovely and indicates a good grasp of creating verse that is without complications and catchy enough that it will engage the young listener.
Happy, playful bluebirds fly through a clear and cloudless sky.
That's what bluebirds love to do.
God, our maker, paints them BLUE.
The bright, colorful illustrations are charming and sure to please. I absolutely love God Paints the World and highly recommend it for young readers or listeners.

Find it on Amazon
God Loves the World teaches little ones that God’s children are very diverse, and very, very, loved. Regardless of their shapes and sizes, colors and ages, interests and abilities—God cares for and loves each of his wonderfully unique children. Parents and little ones will love the book’s bright illustrations and inclusive message: “God loves all so very much!”
My thoughts: In Gary Bower's God Loves the World he presents the love God has for each and every person no matter how they are built, what the color of their skin is, what part of Earth they live on, the shape of their eyes, the language they speak. God loves each of them. Also, he clearly speaks to "God is our Maker" in the rhyming story and that we are all in "our Maker's heart." 
Every person everywhere, girls and boys, both here and there,
people from across the sea, have a Maker just like me. 
Very different, yet the same. Everybody has a name.
We all need God's loving touch, God loves all so very much! 
Being a book from a Christian publishing house - Worthy Kids/Ideals an imprint of Worthy Publishing Group - it is clear that this book is intended for the Christian audience. It does not state, however, that "God our Maker" is the Christian God. Obviously, in very young children's books one can't be expected to address theology according to religions. I do, stress, however, that this is a Christian publishing group. 
I highly recommend this and wish I had had it when my children were young. I love that it addresses the differences in people and shows a lovely acceptance of those differences.
One winner will receive both books
Begins September 8
Ends September 18 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to continental USA addresses only.
Author Bio: Gary Bower fell in love with picture books at an early age, while sitting in his mother’s lap. As a youngster he entertained himself for hours by writing his own stories, jokes, poems, and skits. As an adult, his years of professional and volunteer experience ministering to children and teens, combined with thousands of story nights with his twelve children, have helped him polish his storytelling skills.

Illustrator Bio: Tracy Cottingham is happiest when creating pictures and patterns. After finishing her art degree, she began to sell her art for greeting cards and textiles, but creating illustrations for books is her ultimate joy. She can usually be found working at her desk, sipping coffee, and chewing on gummy candy. Tracy lives and works in London.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of each book from WorthyKids/Ideals to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's books are provided by and shipped directly to the winner by the publisher.

Friday, September 1, 2017

GOBI: A Little Dog with a Big Heart by Dion Leonard & illustrated by Lisa Manuzak

ISBN: 9780718075293
Hardcover $16.99
My thoughts:  This bright, colorful, and interesting children's picture book is based of the real-life story and experiences of Dion Leonard and a little stray dog named Gobi. The story is told in more detail in a middle school reader's book. For youngsters, and young at heart, the story embraces adoption and it's beauty and need in society on many levels.

The illustrations picturing little Gobi the doggy are simply charming and make one wish to cuddle that little critter themselves. And the story begins with this little dog in the desert (China's Gobi Desert) and he hears a noise. Curious, he investigates and sees people running. Like any decent little doggy, he decides to run along with them. And he now has "friends"!

Dion shares his water, pets the little doggy, and finally bestows him with a name..... "Gobi" after the tough desert they are running across. And when the going got really tough, Dion made certain Gobi wasn't left behind.

This is a sweet story of how a caring person adopts and cares for a dog, and one I can recommend because it is a good story and also because it involves a real-life experience.

About the book: Gobi is the charming story of the unlikely friendship between a little dog living all alone in China's Gobi Desert and Dion Leonard, a successful ultramarathon runner.

An unbreakable bond was forged as the scruffy dog ran alongside Dion for 77 miles of a race across the Gobi Desert, in extreme temperatures, over sand dunes, through fast-running rivers, and finally to cross the finish line together. Families will enjoy reading this tail-wagging tale again and again.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Reviewers program to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own, alone, and freely given.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The World's Greatest Adventure Machine by Frank L. Cole [Book Spotlight & Giveaway]

About the Book: An adventure novel about four lucky kids and a mysterious, but thrilling ride for fans of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Jurassic Park!

CastleCorp and the famous Castleton brothers are unveiling the World's Greatest Adventure Machine! The roller coaster is an experience like no other, and four lucky kids have won the chance to be the first to ride it.

There's Trevor, whose latest stunt got him in trouble at school again. There's Devin, whose father is pushing him to be the next Internet sensation. Nika's wealthy grandfather isn't too pleased about her participation. And Cameron, he'll be the first to tell you, is a certified genius.

The whole world is watching. But as the kids set off on their journey, they begin to realize that there is perhaps more to their fellow contest winners than meets the eye. And the Adventure Machine? It might just have a mind of its own.
Join the contestants on their wild ride if you dare. Your adventure starts now!

About the author: FRANK L. COLE lives with his wife and three children out west. When not writing books, Frank enjoys going to the movies and traveling. The World’s Greatest Adventure Machine is Frank’s ninth published book and his second with Delacorte Press. His first was The Afterlife Academy. You can learn more about his writing at or find @franklcole on Twitter.
Begins August 31
Ends September 21 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway Buy: Amazon:
Barnes & Noble:

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity to facilitate this spotlight on the book. I received no compensation.

Maverick and Me by Katherine Schwarzenegger & illustrated by Harris Phyllis

My thoughts:     This delightful children's picture book is definitely for those who love dogs and would-be dog lovers. Also, it focuses on the need to adopt a dog rather than shop for one. It weighs heavily on the appeal that little forlorn lost puppies who are neglected have on tender hearted individuals and the universal appeal of a child with a puppy.

Katherine Schwarzenegger has written a sweet story involving Maverick who is the forlorn lost and neglected puppy. Found by a caring lady who takes him to a pet store. The owner of the store encourages her to take the puppy home and clean him up a bit returning soon to an "adopt a dog" event at the store.

After little Maverick gets a bit of tender care, he still doesn't have a lot of appear to some of the pet seekers. Finally a charming little girl adopts Maverick and they are forever in love in their "forever home."

The illustrations by Phyllis Harris are sweet and charming and beautifully capture the emotions of seekers and doggies alike. The joy of being in a "forever home" is exuberantly displayed in the ending pages of the story.

A lovely book about a way to provide homes for dogs and have that sweet pet of your own without adding to the population of pets being sold in the market.

About the book:  Dog lover and animal advocate Katherine Schwarzenegger draws from her own experience with fostering and adopting dogs to create a picture book that introduces children to the concept of “adopt, don’t shop.” In the heartwarming story of Maverick and Me, Maverick is rescued by a kind-hearted stranger after being dumped on the side of the road. The little puppy’s luck takes a turn for the better when young Scarlett meets him at an adoption event. Scarlett is so moved by Maverick’s story that she and her mother decide to give him the forever home he is looking for. Each year, millions of dogs find themselves in shelters and with animal rescues through no fault of their own. Maverick will help teach children about these dogs and empower even young readers to advocate for shelter pups.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a copy by Worthy/Ideals Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Beauty and the Beak by Deborah LeeRose and Janie Veltkamp [Blog Tour & Giveaway]

Welcome to Day #3 of the Beauty and the Beak Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of Beauty and the Beak by Deborah Lee Rose and Janie VeltKamp (8/27/17), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Deborah, plus 5 chances to win a copy of Beauty and the Beak!

Surprising Facts About Conservation and Endangered Species

I was amazed to learn—and kids love to hear—how scientists worked to bring bald eagles back to regions of the U.S. where they had almost disappeared. The biologists had to take very young bald eagle chicks from parts of country where there were lots of bald eagles, and transplant the chicks to parts of the country where there were almost no bald eagles. The chicks had to be relocated before they fledged (learned to fly), because once a young bald eagle learns to fly, it will always consider the place it first flew as its home and come back there year after year to nest. So the scientists had to make sure the young eagles learned to fly in the new areas that would become their homes. Once they had taken bald eagle chicks to a different part of the country, biologists placed the chicks in special nesting boxes in trees in the wild. The biologists then camouflaged themselves, so they could feed and care for the chicks without the young eagles having direct contact with humans. As soon as the chicks started to fly and could hunt for their own food, the biologists left the eagles to their new wild life. Because of this amazing conservation effort, today bald eagle populations are increasing all over the U.S. and millions of people can now watch bald eagles in the wild.


Blog Tour Schedule:
August 29th — Word Spelunking
August 30th — Chat with Vera
August 31st  — Late Bloomer's Book Blog
September 1stLiving Simply

Follow Deborah: Website | Facebook | Twitter 
  Follow Janie: Website;| Facebook

BEAUTY AND THE BEAK is a new, nonfiction picture book about Beauty, the wild bald eagle that made world news when she was illegally shot, rescued, and received a pioneering, 3D-printed prosthetic beak. BEAUTY AND THE BEAK follows Beauty close up from the moment she uses her baby beak to emerge from her egg, through her hunt when she uses her powerful adult beak to feed herself, to the day her beak is shot off leaving her helpless. This brave and heartlifting story continues through her rescue, into the months of engineering her 3D-printed prosthetic beak and intense hours of her beak surgery, to the moment she takes the first drink of water by herself with her new beak. BEAUTY AND THE BEAK captures the spirit and courage of this amazing bird and America’s national symbol―whose species was nearly wiped out by human activity, only to be restored and thriving because of environmental conservation and human compassion. This book will resonate with stories of other animals endangered or in need, and with stories of humans, from young children to military veterans, in need of prosthetic limbs, who are being given new lives with state-of-the-art devices. The book includes expanded information about bald eagles as a top predator species, their near extinction in most of the U.S., their successful reintroduction back into the wild, and efforts to conserve this critical raptor species today.
About the Authors: Deborah Lee Rose is an internationally published, award-winning author of many beloved children’s books. Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue is a Reading is Fundamental/Macy’s Multicultural Collection title and Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Students K-12. Into the A, B, Sea was named to the New York Public Library’s 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. Deborah helped create and directed communications for the ALA/AASL award-winning national STEM education website, and helped created STEM activity apps for Lawrence Hall of Science which have been downloaded more than one million times. She also served as Director of Communications for Lindsay Wildlife Experience, which includes one of the first wildlife rehabilitation hospitals established in the U.S. Deborah lives in Walnut Creek, CA, and speaks at book events, conferences, schools and libraries across the country. Visit her website at

Jane Veltkamp is a raptor biologist and rehabilitator, wildlife educator, trained nurse, and master falconer. She led the team who developed Beauty the Bald Eagle’s prosthetic beak and has lifetime care of Beauty. Jane is founder and executive director of Birds of Prey Northwest, in Idaho, a raptor center which educates the public about raptor conservation, including through live raptor programs, and has provided medical treatment and rehabilitation to thousands of injured birds of prey to return them to the wild. She spent ten years of her career reintroducing ospreys and peregrine falcons to regions where they had disappeared from their habitat in South Dakota and Indiana. She rescues and cares for Bald Eagles, including Beauty, by permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Jane lives near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and is also the eagle expert for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's Native American Aviaries. Visit her website at

About Persnickety Press: Persnickety Press is the sister imprint of the Cornell Lab Publishing Group. Persnickety publishes a broad range of books for children and young adults, both fiction and nonfiction, from picture books through teen titles. Our books focus on empowerment, showing young people that what they do matters, what they care about is worthy of their attention and dedication, and even as children, they can make a real difference. 
One (1) winner will receive a copy of Beauty and the Beak
US addresses only
Begins August 30
Ends September 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Beauty and the Beak from MMPublicity to participate in this blog tour. Materials are provided by MMPublicity. Giveaway is hosted singularly on Chat With Vera with prize being provided and shipped by MMPublicity to the winner.

Good Earth Beauty Skin Care Set - Toner, Moisturizer, and Cleanser [Review & Giveaway - US & CANADA]

Searching the shelves of stores or the internet for skin care products can be a daunting and/or perplexing experience. You almost never know what the spend your hard-earned money on and fear it will be the wrong product for you.

If you're searching for natural products, you don't know if they are well-done, safe, pure, or will do the job you want - cleanse, protect, and help you avoid those awful signs of aging. So is it give and take, search and seek, hit and miss? Yep! A bit of all of that. However, there is hope.

On the Good Earth Beauty website there is a plethora of products some of which you will readily recognize from shopping elsewhere. And there is the Good Earth Beauty Exclusive product line which is affordable and made in the U.S.A.! Real winning attributes. They also SHIP FREE. Wow! That is a super plus. In addition, some of the Good Earth Beauty Exclusive products are carried in Whole Foods stores.
Good Earth Beauty Vitamin C Facial Cleanser

Today, we're looking at three of the Good Earth Beauty Exclusive skin care products. Since my skin is normal I'm looking at products formulated for normal skin - a cleanser, toner, and moisturizer (click here to see the skin care kit). I used the three products this morning and was completely satisfied with the way they performed. It takes a very small amount to do the job. The end result is skin pleasing to the touch, it feels good, looks good, and with a light brushing of blush makes for a good-to-go look for me.
Good Earth Beauty Rose & Green Tea Facial Moisturizer

I was pleased with the scent of each product. Frankly, there is little scent at all. The cleanser lathers very nicely and rinses well. It doesn't seem to be drying at all. Wonderful! The toner is a little denser (think light gel thickness) than the usual "Witch Hazel toner" that is astringent in nature. It is quite soothing. The cream moisturizer really moisturizes and leaves the skin feeling great. Don't use too much since a little goes a long way!

The Products: (from the Good Earth Beauty website)


Exquisitely gentle and edifyingly healing....this Botanical Gel Wash is exactly what you have been looking for. Plant actives enrich this inspired formula with healing components. Plant lipids sooth and protect the upper dermal layers for a desirable washing experience....every day! Aloe Vera heals all that ails you skin wise...and coconut and sugar derived surfactants gently wash away the grime and goop of daily living for a fresh new delightfully sudsy and luxurious drop at a time.


Spray Mist Bottle.  Loaded with unusual superstar ingredients, this toner performs above and beyond expectation. Treat half of your face for one week and marvel at the noticeable difference in color, texture, elasticity, tone, and smoothness. Each ingredient was carefully chosen for its youthening properties. You will be beyond thrilled with this toner.


Pamper your skin with this moisturizing, all-purpose lotion. This delightful lotion absorbs right into the skin without leaving a greasy feeling yet provides the glide of a deep penetrating moisturizer. It conditions your skin while it moisturizes and softens, replenishing through the day.

Now one of my readers has the opportunity to win their own set of these three skin products. You will be able to choose the skin type products that you, personally, need.

Set of 3 Skin Care Products
Begins August 29
Ends September 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received 3 products to facilitate this review by personally trying the products and commenting on my experience. Review opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's products will be provided and shipped by Good Earth Beauty to the winner.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson (Bethany House Publishing)

My thoughts:  One never knows when opening a book by an author one has never read before just what to expect. Will it be enjoyable? Will it be intense? Will it entertain? Just what will this author convey to the reader, and will I come back for more?

I can honestly say that this novel had me turning the pages wanting to know just what else young Ian Wells - attorney, loving son, good guy - will stumble into next. I thoroughly enjoyed Todd M. Johnson's writing style and the way he was able to keep my attention and weave the story of a young man, a law firm, lots of money, and long ago crimes all the while featuring the sad truth of a mother in the throes of Alzheimer's.

Mystery, suspense, touch of romance (squeaky clean), unsolved crimes of years past, quirky personalities, good guys, tough guys. Guns and secrets.

As this young attorney begins investigating and delving into the simple case of disbursing a trust fund, he finds himself joyfully facing an unprecedentedly large fee to perform his responsibilities and an unrealistically limited number of days in which to do so. Coupled with these facts is his recurring dream of a time in his childhood that seems to have some connection to the people involved in the trust.

When I discovered the bad guy in the story, I was totally surprised. This is a must read. Todd M. Johnson draws from his knowledge as a practicing attorney and weaves legalese well into the narrative. This is an author I'll be watching heretofore.

About the book: A Simple Job. An Unbelievable Payout. But in Risking It All On Blind Trust, He May Just Lose Everything . . .

Ian Wells is a young, ambitious Minneapolis attorney struggling to build up a law practice while caring for a mother with Alzheimer's. As the stress and bills mount, Ian is nearing the breaking point when everything changes with a single new case. All Ian must do, the client demands, is judge whether three men qualify for nine million dollars of trust funds soon to be paid out by determining whether they've been involved in any criminal activity for the past twenty years. Ian's fee for a week's work: the unfathomable sum of two hundred thousand dollars.

The job seems too good to be true, and Ian wants to turn the offer down, but his needs weigh more heavily. He warily accepts the job--but is quickly dragged deep into a mystery linking the trust money to an illegal enterprise dating back to Prohibition and the greatest unsolved crime in Minnesota history. Ian soon finds himself the target of a swiftly tightening criminal investigation--realizing too late that this so-called simple job has spun out of control and now threatens his career, his future, and his life.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Bethany House publishers to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

God's Crime Scene for Kids by J.Warner Wallace & Wallace [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  The story flows nicely and grabs one's attention from the onset. Love the descriptive language as it seems to really be a "detective" talking about what is seen. Terse - singular - "detective style."

I wasn't impressed with the illustrations and felt that a publisher with the reputation of David C. Cook Publishing ( would have been more professionally done.

Sprinkled throughout the book are sidebars with instructions to "dig deep" and "CSI Assignment" with a Scripture reference to read and fill in the blanks.

As the story progresses, the study of forensics turns to the morgue where the doctor in charge discusses the brain, thoughts, reading, and God's creation of man in His image. Pretty heavy thinking and reading for the 7 to 12 age reader. Not completely beyond them, but still, pretty heavy.

I appreciate the author's writing, the story, and the endeavor to clearly teach children to think for themselves about understanding and "proving" the evidence of God's existence.

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

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

Give kids the tools to investigate the evidence of God in His creation!

About the author: J. Warner Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective who has been featured on Dateline, FOX News, and Court TV. A former atheist, he is the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God's Crime Scene. Wallace has a master's degree in theology and lives in California with his wife and four children.
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GIVEAWAY #1 - A Copy for One Reader
Begins August 15
ENDS August 31 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
More reviews and information -click here
DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary "Advance Reader's uncorrected proof" copy from Litfuse Publicity Group to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped to winner by author or publisher.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Beautiful crystal necklace in Vintage Bohemian style

I was presented the opportunity to review a piece of jewelry from Babies R Here - an online distributor. When I received this lovely necklace, I was quite impressed with the workmanship. A variety of sized crystals in blues and clear "white" are arranged in a vintage or bohemian style that is truly lovely.

This necklace can be worn day or evening. If worn in the evening, though, lights will surely reflect beautifully from this rounded, floral design. The design is available in either blue, green, or red stones and it sells for around $40 online at Babies R Here.

DISCLOSURE: I received this necklace at a discounted rate and was requested to review. Opinions are my own and freely given. I was not compensated.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Child Safeguarding Policy for Churches and Ministries by Boz Tchividjian & Shira M. Berkovits [Giveaway]

ISBN: 978-1945270055

Book Spotlight

My thoughts on the subject: The days when no one worried about leaving their child - infant, toddler, preschooler - in a church nursery or taking their older children and leaving them in a Sunday School class are forever gone.

When my children were small, we didn't utilize the nursery but we kept our children with us in church - and they behaved. We did leave them in Sunday School classes and evening activities appropriate for their age. We trusted those with whom we entrusted our beloved children. That can not be taken today to be a certainty.

Churches must take action to be sure that the children in their ministry are safe from outside and inside hard. In Tchividjian's book the premise of how a church can safeguard the child and the church is presented. There must be an awareness and there must be an action plan in place and fully implemented.

Take a peek via the link below and be sure you enter the giveaway. Perhaps you can win a copy for your church to have as a guideline.

Read a sample (pdf file) - click here

About the book: Churches have always sought to be a safe haven for children and families, but many today are dealing with the tragic reality of child sexual abuse. For the first time in history, this issue is finally being acknowledged by churches and faith communities. But the task of developing a policy to keep children safe can seem too overwhelming it feels like an impossible task to plan for every contingency. This results in churches neglecting to put working safety plans in place, leaving themselves, and the children they care for, vulnerable. This handbook, authored and edited by a multidisciplinary team of child abuse experts, is designed to help churches and faith communities formulate policies and procedures to protect children and deal with possible child abuse in their ministries, school, and church. By walking through a wide range of scenarios, this book will assist churches and ministries to assess their current child abuse policies and guide them through each step they should take to address the safety of children under their care. Covering vitally important topics including the warning signs of abuse, how to respond to abuse allegations and care for victims, and the legal implications and requirements for churches and Christian ministries, working through this book will guide churches and Christian ministries in creating and implementing policies to protect children in a Christian environment from child abuse. This handbook is an invaluable resource for Christians who are seeking to educate themselves and others about child abuse and how they can best protect the little ones under their care.

About the Author: Basyle (Boz) Tchividjian is a former child-abuse prosecutor who currently teaches Child Abuse and the Law and several other courses at Liberty University School of Law. Professor Tchividjian is also the founder and executive director of GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). The third eldest grandchild of Reverend Billy Graham, he wrote the book Invitation: Billy Graham and the Lives God Touched. Shira M. Berkovits is founder and CEO of Sacred Spaces, a cross-denominational initiative to create systemic solutions to abuse in communal institutions. In this capacity she has worked with faith communities around the world to develop policies and training to prevent and respond to institutional abuse. She is a psychologist and attorney, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in child trauma and rehabilitative alternatives to incarceration. Prior to founding Sacred Spaces, Dr. Berkovits worked on issues of youth advocacy, child protection, and criminal justice reform.

More information and reviews - click here

Begins August 21, 2017
Ends September 4, 2017 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of the book and agreed to share information about the book's importance which I am freely giving.