Sunday, September 22, 2019

Christmas in Winter Hill by Melody Carlson

My thoughts:  It is such a delight to read short Christmas novellas. They are most always warm-fuzzy-feeling books that just brighten one's emotional being. Often those treasures are tinsel draped and brightly lit romances. You know - boy meets girl, girl swoons, a Christmas engagement or wedding, and happily into the sunset. Not bad, but not always what we wish for.

Melody Carlson's Christmas novellas have a light touch of romance - very light. They reach right into the heart of the characters and pull out bits and pieces of life that engage your interest and bring you a truly warm-fuzzy feeling.

In Christmas in Winter Hill we meet a young divorcee and her one and only child who captures our hearts immediately with her bright spirit.

The story has Krista, our young divorcee, beginning a new job in Winter Hill and she is immediately cast into the town's frenzy that is preparation for the annual Christmasville. As the new city manager, she immediately spots discrepancies into which she begins a quiet investigation - all of which creates at atmosphere that is not at all cheerful and gay as a Christmas celebration should be.

As with the author's previous novella, Christmas By the Sea, we find that Christmas in Winter Hill is about family values, love, and trust. It is also about new beginnings.

I highly recommend.

About the book: Krista Galloway has a good reason to dislike the holiday season, but when her new job as city manager forces her to plan the town's over-the-top Christmas celebration, she and her daughter may find a new home—and some Christmas spirit—in the process.

About the Author: Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus.

She also writes many teen books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series.

Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Revell Reads to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Playing with Collage: Learn the Art of Collage from a Master, by Jeannie Baker [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

My thoughts: The artist Jennie Baker brings the craft of artistic collage to a new height showing intriguing combinations of materials with which to create beautiful visionary pieces of art. More of a craft than traditional art, the use of textual materials pieced together stunningly are used in the playful art form of collage.

This is a great book for school libraries and teachers of art as well as elementary and preschool. Hands of all ages will enjoy the creation of long lasting or temporary artistic expressions using materials they find about their normal day-to-day living.

Here in the fall of the year and at the beginning of the school year, I can see this as a useful, enjoyable guide for persons of all ages.

About the book: With this gem of a book, readers are invited to trust their instincts -- and play -- as they follow the advice of an award-winning collage artist.

Whether using dried flowers or tiny shells, spaghetti or postage stamps, Jeannie Baker draws from the world around her to make work that is singularly beautiful and imaginative. Incorporating a wide range of textures, her arresting collage pieces have earned her international acclaim. Now she shares her secrets and encourages readers to get creative: each of the four main sections in Playing with Collage presents an abstract collage by the artist and offers suggestions and starting points for anyone aspiring to master the art.
Win a copy for yourself, a teacher, or a school library
Begins September 22
Ends October 20 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
NO P.O. Boxes
Canadian winners must provide a phone number.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

National Geo Kids DOG BREED GUIDE: A Complete Guide to Your Best Friend Fur-Ever [Review & Giveaway]

Veterinarian, San Diego Humane Society President and passionate animal welfare champion Dr. Gary Weitzman debuts an excellent reference for families who are bringing home their first four-legged doggy friend. 

Hardcover $19.99
Ages 8-12 National Geographic Kids
My thoughts:  The amount of information on dogs and their history is fascinating and beautifully presented. Although designed for ages 8-12, this will appeal to adults as well.

I grew up with beautiful, loving Collies. My father even raised a few puppies and he had one Collie that he took to dog shows. But they were family dogs allowed to romp and play in the yard with the children and one was a self-appointed protector to my younger brother. So out of innate curiosity  I looked up the information in Dog Breed Guide on Collies. Such a little bit on Collies, but enough. After all, there are a lot of dog breeds featured in the book.

The dogs are categorized by type of breed. I found it very interesting that there is a classification known as "Primitive Dog." These dogs are actually more closely related in genetic makeup to original dogs than any other breed.

It is pointed out that domestication of wolves is the first case of animals being domesticated. Also, that dogs of today are considered to be direct descents of a line of wolves now extinct.

The grouping of dogs in this book sets them apart by their sense of smell, sight, herding, mountain, retrievers and then specially "designed" dog and those bred to have hair rather than fur (good for those with allergies).

So much information about dogs is in Dog Breed Guide that makes this a book that will appeal to young and old alike and be picked up time and time again for perusal and information gleaning.

Every library needs a copy of this book - public, schools, private libraries. I highly recommend.

About the book: From dachshunds to Dalmatians and poodles to pugs, this comprehensive guide gives an overview of more than 400 different dog breeds. Each profile includes the breed's "dog stats": country of origin, size, coat color and pattern, grooming difficulty, exercise needs, and "K-9 qualities." With the help of veterinarian Dr. Gary Weitzman and dog behaviorist Amanda Kowalski, kids will also learn how to choose the right dog for them, how to take care of their new furry friend, and how to understand their behavior. Fantastic feature spreads cover dogs in popular culture, dog ancestry, how to prepare for your perfect pooch, and so much more.
Begins September 19
Ends October 18 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

MCHATTE Portable Blender with Personal Juicer Cup for Juice shakes and Smoothies (for Travel and is USB Rechargeable)

I am truly not on-board the "smoothie" groupies that enable one to gulp down their veggies, fruits, and even grains in liquefied form. But this cute little blender for smoothies really caught my eye. So here I sit gulping down an unbelievably delicious, sweet fruity drink.

It is like drinking a cloud of goodness. What I used in this small blender was a small-medium sized banana, 1/4 peeled apple (I buy nice apples, not budget apples), half-dozen baby cut carrots (you buy them already peeled and washed), and about 1/4 cup orange juice.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First of all I unboxed the MCHATTE Portable Blender, Personal Juicer Cup, Fruit Mixing Machine/Blender, familiarized myself with the pieces, disassembled and reassembled the blender, then again disassembled and thoroughly washed the pieces. At this point, I was ready to gather the fruits and veggies and begin blending.

There are no instructions that I can read as it is all in Chinese or an oriental language. There is no recipe book with suggestions. So you have to just wing it. I'd recommend the company have their box and instructions written in the language to which they are marketed or shipped. But that's not what we're talking about today. We're taking about the pros and cons of this nifty blender.

Designed for small smoothies or those traveling who want to be sure they get their daily quota of smoothies, this product is ideal. It is rechargeable using a USB port cord. You get several uses between charges. Personally, I'd recommend you make certain your unit is charged prior to using. You certainly don't want to plug this into your computer and blend your smoothie. Simply because mishaps do happen. So charge your unit with your recharging device only when you're not making a smoothie. (I know you got a laugh out of those instructions, but people do strange things.)

Now the unit is ready and filled with my fruits and veggies. I push the button to commence action and voila I have a delicious smoothie. It is lovely. I pour it into the cup that functions as the lid to the unit. It is such a cute cup and has a lovely handle.

I think this is an ideal unit for home use but especially for those who travel.

Product information (click here to find unit -   Mchatte Blender )

8.07" includes power base. 5.51" has power base removed.
Has flat "lid" attached to become "to-go" unit.
NOTE: Exercise care when removing power base. Flip to
have powerbase on top or removal and placement of flat lid.

  • ULTRAVIOLET DISINFECTION LAMP OF PORTABLE BLENDER: After use, press and hold the power button to turn on the disinfection mode, an ultraviolet disinfection lamp, It's safe and healthy. VERA'S NOTE; I depress the control  a few seconds and the little UV light appears. Do this after washing unit.)
  • POWERFUL AND RECHARGEABLE OF BLENDER JUICER CUP: Blend fruits, baby food, vegetables, etc. within 20 seconds, max speed 18300 rpm. 3600mAh rechargeable battery, easily charged by power bank, laptop, computer, or other USB devices. It's very portable and great for traveling outdoor. 
  • SMART DISPLAY DESIGN OF PORTABLE JUICER CUP: click the switch to display the power, double-click the switch to start the 20-second countdown to blend.
  • CUP SEPARATION DESIGN OF PORTABLE BLENDER: After separating the main engine of Portable Blender , It becomes a sealed cup, which is convenient for refrigerating, on-the-go, Office, and Travel.
  • SAFETY AND FOOD GRADE MATERIAL: Personal blender, safe for babies to drink from with an Enhanced ABS resin bottle(FDA, BPA Free), Contains 6 blades made of 304 stainless steel, an in-cup design to prevent accidental finger cuts.

DISCLOSURE: I received a unit to facilitate review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Doggy Defenders series from National Geographic Kids for ages 4-8 [Review & Giveaway]

Ages 4-8 - Hardcover $9.99 - National Geographic Kids

Children are drawn to puppies and dogs for fun, activity, friendship, and unconditional devotion. In real life or in animated stories, the allure is real and usually pretty hyped-up.

In the shadow of major events like the United States' 9-11 tragedy when dogs were used extensively for search and rescue or earthquakes and floods world wide, dogs unflinchingly serve man.

The Doggy Defenders series from National Geographic Kids places beloved dogs in service in a variety of manners - Search, Fire, Police, Therapy. This is not a set of fictional stories about animals, it is about real life dogs who are lovingly trained to served, how they are cared for, and how they go on to serve man (or woman, or child).

These real-life adventure books will teach as well as brighten the day for the reader.

Stella the Search Dog -  ISBN: 9781426334498

Courageous(and ridiculously cute!) bloodhound Stella spends an exciting day at work as a Virginia police search dog, tracking scent trails, riding in a helicopter, and even saving a lost hiker.

Dolley the Fire Dog - ISBN: 9781426332999

Learn all about Dolley's important role as a fire dog in Loudoun County, Virginia as this Labrador retriever visits the site of a fire, trains to sniff out flammable items, and teaches kids about fire safety.

Tiger the Police Dog - ISBN: 9781426332975

Together with his handler Aida, Belgian Malinois Tiger is a member off the Washington, D.C. police department. Readers join Tiger on a typical day “on the job” where he visits a police academy, trains to sniff out important items, patrols famous landmarks, and keeps us all safe.

Willow the Therapy Dog - ISBN: 9781426334474

Willow is a rescued greyhound and a therapy dog in Washington, D.C. Willow has a very important job cheering people up and making them feel better and shares her day with young readers as she visits a hospital, helps children read at a library  book party, and brings smiles to people who need them.

Begins September 11
Ends October 11 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Frosted Gingerbread Hand Cream & Lip Balm usher in the Autumn season #natural & #vegan from Good Earth Beauty [Review & Giveaway]

Frosted Gingerbread Hand Cream (find it here)

As the promise of cooler days and nights is given to us in the changing leaves that tumble from their perch on the oaks, maples, elms in colorful array, we tend to think of changes in our cooking practices.

We reach for the spices and herbs that seem too heavy for warm or hot days. We think of breads, cakes, and cookies lavishly endowed with the fragrance of spices. Ginger, allspice, clove, cinnamon. These say comfort and joy and pleasure to our sensory organs - nose and taste. And now that sense of spicy fragrance is endowing our beauty products as well.

The Frosted Gingerbread Hand Cream from Good Earth Beauty Exclusives is a #natural and #vegan product rich in those wonderful oils and butters that tenderly care for our hard working hands. Hands that tenderly touch our children. Hands that vigorously pull weeds from the garden. Hands that fold clothes, make beds, sew, cook. Hands that drive the kids to school and then drive ourselves to work that further enriches our soul and our pocketbook.

What are you doing to care for those hard working hands?

I have found that the Good Earth Beauty Exclusives hand creams feel good, work exceptionally well, are thick enough to endow the skin and light enough to be quickly absorbed. They are not greasy or sticky feeling. They are grand.

And right now, the Frosted Gingerbread Hand Cream speaks volumes to my being saying, "Hands we love you. Nose we tickle you and delight you."

I highly recommend and I encourage you to endow your senses with this gentle sensory experience this Fall.

Product information (from Good Earth Beauty): Lavish, modern hand cream repairs dry skin and cuticles, leaving behind the perfectly elegant scent. To heal cracked skin, you only need a small drop of this cream. It's deceptively thin for such a hydrating formula, and it leaves hands soft and supple for the entire day. Perfect for holiday gifts or stocking stuffers.

Made in small batches in the USA by Good Earth Beauty 4 oz Tube $14.00
Free of: parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors. Ingredients: Purified Water, Organic Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe), Sunflower Oil, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Mango Butter, Organic, Evening Primrose Oil, Emulsifying Wax, Rose Hip Oil, Chamomile, Grapeseed Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Radish Root Ferment (Natural Preservative), Proprietary Blend Of Natural Fragrance Oils.

Frosted Gingerbread Lip Balm (find it here)

The same thoughts are so true of our lips. We use them so much. We kiss the boo-boos. We kiss our sweetheart. We speak harsh words (oh my!) and we croon words of love or kindness and whisper lullabies. They sip hot drinks and bear the brunt of winter chill and summer sun.

They need to be cared for. The Good Earth Beauty Exclusives Lip Balm has the potential to soften, soothe, beautify our lips and protect them from the harshness that shifts in weather throw our way.

The Lip Balm won't sweeten the words that come from your lips, but if you care for your lips and guard them, perhaps those words will be gentled as well as the lips softened.

The Frosted Gingerbread Lip Balm has just a hint of spice that helps you conjure images of sweetness and delights.

I highly recommend and I encourage you to get one for yourself and several for stocking stuffers and party favors.

Product information (from Good Earth Beauty): Vegan - natural -  soothing and moisturizing - helps heal chapped lips. Seasonal scent & a great stocking stuffer and party favors.  Slather over your lips for the cool feeling of eating a gingerbread cookie. Sweet flavor. Made by Good Earth Beauty Price: $6.25
Ingredients: Meadowfoam oil, olive oil, avocado butter, candellia wax, vitamin E, natural flavor oil
Don't wait to see if you win it! Go ahead & shop for it on GOOD EARTH BEAUTY where your USA order SHIPS FREE. And to sweeten the shopping trip, take 10% off using FALL10 discount code.
Frosted Gingerbread Hand Cream $14.00
Frosted Gingerbread Lip Balm $6.25

1 Full Size Frosted Gingerbread Hand Cream
1 Frosted Gingerbread Lip Balm
Begins September 10
Ends October 9   at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given after I have personally used it. Winner's prize is provided and shipped by publicist or directly to the winner.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Young Palmetto Books from University of South Carolina Press: Three Wild Pigs-A Carolina Folktale and Poppy's Pants

Poppy's Pants (Young Palmetto Books) by Melissa Conroy

My thoughts:  This is a cute story and nicely told. I love the theme of a child being given the task (so grown up) of repairing Poppy's pants. A grand opportunity for a child to learn to do a useful task and figure out the way to best accomplish that.

To me, though, the book speaks to understanding someone with a disadvantage. You see, Poppy can't discern colors and Penelope can use any color she wishes on his khaki pants.

The illustrations are "stuffed doll/critter" style which beautifully ties in with the theme of Penelope loving to sew.

I recommend this book.

About the book: Penelope's Poppy always wears khaki pants. When he finds a hole in one pair, he asks Penelope to patch it. Penelope likes to sew, but she soon realizes that mending the hole is more complicated than she first thought. Penelope struggles with the challenges and frustrations, but, with a little help from her mama, she finally—and creatively—repairs Poppy’s pants.

Poppy’s Pants is about perseverance and problem-solving. Through Penelope’s example youngsters discover the satisfaction of finding solutions on their own, even if the solution is not the way other people might solve it. Sometimes the best solutions come from being creative—using your head and your hands.

A postscript written by the author’s father, Pat Conroy, best-selling author of The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides, gives a personal, behind-the-scenes description of the book's characters and the author.

Three Wild Pigs: A Carolina Folktale by Lisa Anne Cullen  (Young Palmetto Books)

My thoughts: A retelling of the Three Little Pigs and while it reflects a bit on my part of the world - the Carolina Coast - I didn't care for it. The Carolinas have a giant size share of hurricanes so this story has the wolf as the personification of a hurricane. The pigs are shrimpers and have set out to sea. Of course, there is lots of huffing and puffing from Hurricane Wolf.

The illustrations are not particularly to my liking, but of course that is a personal preference. They are confusing and cluttered appearing.

While I don't care for it, the story is still basically a Three Little Pigs story and carries a goodly amount of charm.

About the book: Three Wild Pigs: A Carolina Folktale, written and illustrated by Lisa Anne Cullen, is an adaptation of James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps's The Story of the Three Little Pigs. Set on Bird Island along the Carolina Coast, this creative retelling of the timeless tale features three generations of a pig family--Lulu, her father, and her grandfather.On the island Lulu is known for being wise in the ways of the world. Pop is wise in the ways of the waters. Grandpaw Curly, the oldest and smartest pig of all, is wise in the ways of the winds. While shrimping in the Atlantic Ocean, the pigs experience harsh winds and see ominous clouds. Knowing these are warning signs of impending bad weather, they row home. Before long a whirling, swirling, huffing-and-puffing Hurricane Wolf arrives to wreak havoc on the pigs, their homes, and Bird Island. Cullen's colorful illustrations mirror the weather, flora, and fauna of the Carolina coast. Three Wild Pigs features maps of North and South Carolina as well as select state symbols and will educate, entertain, and enlighten early readers and listeners of all ages as Lulu, Pop, and Grandpaw Curly struggle to survive Hurricane Wolf.

DISCLOSURE: I received copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone, and are freely given.