Friday, August 12, 2022

Ultimate Food Atlas: Maps, Games, Recipes, and More for Hours of Delicious Fun by Nancy F. Castaldo & Christy Mihaly from National Geographic Kids [Giveaway]

 National Geographic Kids -- The Ultimate Food Atlas (ages 8-12, paperback and hardback library edition), a culinary tour around the world that reveals the rich diversity of foods and cultures from many different countries.  

My thoughts: 
This is quite an interesting book and would be a great resource when doing school reports on continents or countries. Kids could incorporate food resources and preparation into the report making it a bit different and interesting.

As the reader peruses this interesting book, they might be enticed to experiment a bit in their own kitchen with ingredients they can acquire at their local grocery store to experience another culture's food. Of course, local stores most likely won't have all the same ingredients since many are unique to their area, but similar items can be used to have something akin.

Regardless, it is interesting to see pictures and learn of new foods and likes across the globe that is our home, Earth.

NOTE: This is NOT a recipe book though there are some directions for food preparation. It is a book exploring the foods enjoyed in various parts of the world, food distribution maps, etc.

About The Ultimate Food Atlas: From monkey bread in Niger to hokey pokey ice cream in New Zealand, the National Geographic Kids Ultimate Food Atlas takes young readers on a culinary journey, showcasing a mouthwatering mixture of foods, feasts and festivals from around the globe. Kids can also learn about the food industry, food attractions and traditional meals from every continent; put on their chef's hat and try one of the recipes in the book (cherry kompot from Bulgaria, perhaps?); and get some helpful foodie travel tips (when visiting South America, be prepared that the big meal of the day is lunch and dinner is more of a light snack like an arepa or bread and cheese).  

With a cartographic attention to detail only National Geographic can deliver, this atlas features not only political world and continent-specific maps, but also has additional maps that show where on each continent different amounts of selected crops, livestock and featured foods are grown.  Every spread in the Ultimate Food Atlas contains gorgeous full color photos highlighting the food, culture, people, plants and animals on every continent and there are even sections dedicated to sustainable eating and the challenges and opportunities related to providing food for a changing world. This book has it all -- hours of foodie fun and page after page of informative maps, scrumptious fare, fascinating facts and a unique and approachable way to learn more about the world we live in. 

Begins August 12
Ends September 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prize is provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Deadly Shallows (Coastal Guardians #3) by Dani Pettrey from Bethany House Publishing

My thoughts: 
It was fun and interesting to read a book set in the area I was born and raised in - Wilmington, North Carolina. It's a historic Atlantic coast city sandwiched between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. There is a lot of water in the area. Historically, the city is pre-American Revolution and played a key role in the Civil War. During World War II it was riddled with military importance. I say this to give an idea why this story about the Coast Guard contingency in the Wilmington/Coastal area is credible in possibility.

The story begins explosively with an attack at a graduation ceremony that leave multiple deaths - both civilian and military. The characters leap into action investigating and piecing together the bits of information that soon leads to the conclusion that this is more than a deranged individual out to reap deadly horror.

Packed with more than one story line that seem to be separate but in the end the maze leads to centrality. The team of investigators work individually and with cohesive teamwork to determine the who and why and where this deadly criminal activity is headed. The book is  a good, clean read with strong moral compass guiding the individuals. There are strong romantic vibes throughout the book with sweet conclusions.

I found the story intriguing and fun to envision locales familiar to me. 

About the book: 
CGIS Agent Noah Rowley is rocked to the core when several of his valued team members come under fire on his Coast Guard base. He and his remaining team race to the scene and end the attack, but not before innocent lives are lost. Furious and grief-stricken, he vows to do whatever is needed to bring the mastermind behind the attack to justice.

Stunned by the ambush, Coast Guard flight medic Brooke Kesler evacuates in a helicopter carrying the only surviving gunman. The gravely wounded man whispers mysterious information to Brooke that immediately paints a target on her back.

As Brooke and Noah race to uncover answers, emotions between them ignite. Noah struggles to protect Brooke at all costs and to conceal the secret that prevents him from becoming what he longs to be--the right man for her.

Everything is at stake as a horrifying truth emerges. . . . The attack wasn't the end game. It was only the beginning.

Bestselling author Dani Pettrey again delivers a fast-paced story in an acclaimed style readers have come to love: full of snappy dialogue, thrilling adventure romance, and unexpected plot twists. 

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

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Summery picture books from Candlewick wrap up the lazy-hazy-days-of-summer [Review & Giveaway]

Frog vs. Toad by Ben Mantle

My thoughts: 
This is such a funny, delightful book that involves name-calling, mud-slinging doings down in the woods. The audience grows as frog and toad begin their fitful challenge of ownership over a fly caught by both of them at the same time with their tongues. 

The author uses this verbal and real life mudslinging to teach differences in frogs and toads - their ability to hop high or low, the movement of their eyes, etc. The teaching is achieved in an immensely entertaining way utilizing the mode of storytelling. The lesson is actually hidden in the story.

The main discoverable lesson is that of differences between members of the amphibian reptile group. But the hidden discoverable lesson is that of a society that needs to learn that though there are differences there are also similarities that make us much the same. This provides a good opportunity to gently touch on the differences in races and cultures and how our differences shouldn't drive us apart but how we can appreciate each for their own strengths.

I love the cute illustrations and they help immensely to tell this story. I like particularly how the audience of observers grows with each page turn teaching us that our own actions and performances are observed by a growing audience.

About the book: Two amphibians vie for superiority—before banding together against a toothy foe—in a humorous, light-hearted fable about seeing past differences.

Frog is a frog and Toad is a toad. They are clearly totally different from each other. So when an unlucky fly mistakes Frog and Toad for two frogs, the two are determined to set the record straight. After all, Toad is obviously stronger, while Frog is unmistakably the superior hopper . . . and before long, things start to get a bit heated among the amphibian population in the swamp. But when the two rivals have a close encounter with a snappy alligator, both Frog and Toad see the benefit of joining forces. Perhaps they’re not so different after all? In his authorial debut, author-illustrator Ben Mantle offers a laugh-out-loud look at putting aside differences and celebrating the fact that friends come in all shapes and sizes. (Be sure to enter the giveaway below for a copy of Frog vs. Toad.)

A Day for Sandcastles by JonArno Lawson & illustrated by Qin Leng 

My thoughts: 
Wordless books are great for developing the child's imagination and having them verbalize what they see happening in the story. It does not teach or introduce new words into the vocabulary or develop sentence structure capability. Nor does it allow for introduction of a sense of rhyme and rhythm. What it allows is the blossoming of imagination and individual expression.

 So many personal memories of my own childhood were brought forth with the "reading" of this wordless book. Family visits to the beach are treasured occasions and the family in A Day for Sandcastles is no exception. They have a delightful day of fun, sun, wind, sand, and water. I love the saga of the sandcastle and its literal "ups 'n downs." 

Children will love this book.

About the book: A dazzling wordless picture book celebrates creative problem-solving, teamwork, and the sun-splashed wonder of a day at the beach.
The creators of the acclaimed Over the Shop evoke a perfect summer beach day—and themes of creativity, cooperation, flexibility, and persistence—all without a word in this sun-warmed, salt-stained delight of a story. A busload of beachgoers spills out onto the sand for a day of fun and frolic. Three siblings begin work on a castle, patting and shaping the sand as the sun arcs over the sky. Time and again, their progress is halted: a windswept hat topples their creation; a toddler ambles through it; the tide creeps close, and then too close. Meeting each demolition with fresh determination, the builders outdo themselves time and again, until the moment arrives to pile back into the bus for home. An authentic portrait of sibling cooperation—and glorious inspiration for creative people of all ages—A Day for Sandcastles channels the thrill of surrendering expectations on the path to infinite possibility. 

GIVEAWAY - 2 Winners
"Frog vs. Toad"
Begins August 7
Ends August 30 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
Canadian winners must also provide phone number
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Trendy Vaccination Card Holders & Unique Tote Bags from "ActorsKloset" on eBay [Review & Giveaway]

The dull, tired, life and experience that is the "Covid-Pandemic" needs a bit of cheering up and we need some bits and pieces of niceness to brighten our days.

Trendy Vax-Card Holders

Some places of business and travel require proof of Covid vaccination and those vax-cards are like minted-gold. So we protect them. But why not do it in a trendy, unique way that denies the dreary drudgery of a pandemic existence.

You can with adorable, trendy, vax-card-holders. Just look at these cuties..... "Made in NY" and each is unique. They also have a clip-on that you can use to attach inside your carry-on, purse, on on a lanyard around your neck. Currently there are 12 styles vax card cases.

Trendy Tote Bags are unique & versatile

And another trendy "find" on ActorsKloset's eBay store is the Tote Bag in a variety of unique fabrics. 
  • Your city or state. 
  • Beach focus.
  • Teacher gifts. 
  • Fall. 
  • Christmas.

Inside show pocket
& Powerbank Charger

Lots of fabrics that let you show off your own unique trendy style. What do you like? Currently 12 totes being offered. And a brand new option for an "upgrade" that includes a  phone charger boost pocket and included Powerbank built right in.  Those are a $10 upgrade.

The tote bag also has a clip inside to which you can clip your Vax-Card-Holder or keys! Fabric is 100% cotton & is lined. Has a key-pocket. Made in NY. Find them on

GIVEAWAY - 1 Vax-Card-Holder
Begins July 30
Ends August 22 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA only
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by ActorsKloset. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

"My Dadima Wears a Sari" by Kashmira Sheth and "Lali's Feather" by Farhana Zia [Review & Giveaway]

My Dadima Wears a Sari by Kashmira Sheth & illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi

My thoughts: 
This is a beautifully illustrated book and the story is an excellent account of multigenerational respect and love. The story is an authentic presentation of Indian culture lived out in America. It will give those of Indian heritage an appreciation and respect for their own heritage and give non-Indian readers an opportunity to glimpse into the home of a family that spans three generations.

The beautiful traditional sari is represented lovingly and I think shows the gracious living one can accomplish while wearing their accustomed garment.

I think this culturally explicit book would be a wonderful addition to libraries. 

About the book: Every day, Rupa's grandmother wears a beautiful Indian sari. Each is brightly colored and very beautiful. "Don't you ever want to wear a gray skirt and red blouse with round buttons like Mommy or a green dress like me?" Rupa asks. But Dadima prefers to wear her traditional saris. She shares with her granddaughter all the wonderful things that saris can do--from becoming an umbrella in a rainstorm to providing a deep pouch to carry seashells. Soon Rupa's own imagination is sparked as she envisions saris protecting her in the scary Gir Jungle, bandaging up an injured knee, and holding a special secret for her and Dadima to share.

Kashmira Sheth provides young readers with a unique view of Indian culture and tradition through this affectionate, sensitive portrait of a grandmother and her American granddaughter. Hindu words defined and sprinkled throughout the text further add to the authenticity of the story. Yoshiko Jaeggi's sweeping, colorful, and fanciful watercolor illustrations capture the extraordinary bond of love that unites families across generations despite cultural differences. A note from the author and instructions for wrapping a sari are included. 

Lali's Feather by Farhana Zia & illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman 

My thoughts:
  This is a wonderfully bright, delightful book. I just love little Lali and her charming character. She exudes joy.

She finds a feather and just wants to get it back to it's rightful owner. But no bird she asks claims it as theirs and they seem to look down their "beaks" at the very idea that such an inferior feather would be their's.

Then Lali demonstrates ways she can use the pretty feather and they are all in awe. 

I like that at the end and following the saga of the feather Lali then finds a shiny button. Now I just wonder......

A delight for any child to read or have read to them.

About the book: This endearing story of identification and values shows the rewards in looking closely and thinking imaginatively.

Lali finds a little feather in the field. Is it lost? Lali sets out to find feather a home, but one bird after another rejects it. The feather is too small for Rooster, too slow for Crow, and too plain for Peacock. Once Lali decides to keep the little feather and discovers all the things she can do with it, the other birds begin to recognize its value.

Farahan Zia's charming tale employs an inventive circular structure that reveals the importance of looking beyond first impressions. Illustrator Stephanie Fizer Coleman brings this delightful story of imagination and inspiration to life. 

Both books
Begins July 24
Ends August 18 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Critical Alliance (Rocky Mountain Courage #3) by Elizabeth Goddard

My thoughts: 
This engaging story delves into the dangers and risks facing individuals, corporations, and world governments today from intrusive and devious hackers into cyber systems. These cyber systems are incorporated into major and minute tools of today's world. Our phones, our home systems, our computers, our cars, our machinery, our weapons, our defense and offense systems. Everything!

As a young teen our heroine, Mackenzie, was involved in illegal hacking and regrets her participation. She has turned her life around and is now a cybersecurity professor. Her family's corporate footprint involves the cyber world and development of various drones.

She is drawn into an attack on her family's corporate world and her life is in danger as well as that of her sister, Nora. As she immerses herself in discovering what is happening and what the actual threat is, she is attacked in the woods by an unknown assailant. The story and the threat escalates from this point on. 

I highly recommend this exciting story.

About the book: Mackenzie Hanson's special set of skills opened the door to a successful career as a professor of cybersecurity at a Michigan university, allowing her to put her criminal past behind her. But when a long-ago partner in crime delivers a cryptic message about her father's tech company being under cyberattack, she heads for Montana to secure exposed assets, close security breaches, and hopefully save lives.

Diplomatic Security Services special agent Alex Knight is back home in Montana to decompress from a mission gone wrong. But even as he's trying to relax, he's drawn into another mystery, complete with suspicious deaths, lethal threats, and whispers of espionage that all have one thing in common--a beautiful cybersecurity expert with a dark past.

When the situation turns deadly, Alex and Mackenzie will have to work together to find the answers they need--before someone silences Mackenzie for good.

USA Today bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard weaves a tangled web of nail-biting suspense and heart-stopping romance in this fast-paced conclusion to her Rocky Mountain Courage series. 

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Oceanarium (Welcome to the Museum Series) by Loveday Trinick & Teagan White [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

Welcome to the Museum’ series, Oceanarium is the perfect offering for kids who want to learn more about our oceans and marine life and summer-time is the perfect time in which to dwell on all things "ocean."  Readers gaze at stunning illustrations by Portland artist and naturalist Teagan White. Learn from expert text written by marine biologist Loveday Trinick and vicariously travel the world from frozen Arctic seas to shimmering coral reefs learning why it is so important that we protect our oceans.

ISBN: 9781536223811
US $37.99 / CANADA $47.00

My thoughts:  The "Welcome to the Museum" series is an educational delight. Information and illustrations are simply "spot-on" in accuracy and will capture the attention of readers young and old. This is an oversized book and a bit heavy. So your "littlest" reader may have difficulty holding it. But do show it to everyone and explore it's depths of delight.

I recently saw a documentary on TV and it featured the oceans. Fascinating! Now there is a vast amount of information and pictures to feast upon in Oceanarium anytime you want to dip into it.

Sectioned by types of sea life the book explains with just enough information but doesn't overwhelm the younger or casual reader. The illustrations are beautifully done. The basis of the books seems to be to education the reader to the variety and vastness of the oceans of the world, instill a respect and love for the oceans, and in the end encourage one toward a goal of ecological responsibility.

I have reviewed other "Welcome to the Museum Series" titles and highly recommend this series. Including: Animalium: Welcome to the MuseumDinosaurium: Welcome to the MuseumFungarium: Welcome to the MuseumBotanicum: Welcome to the Museum.

About the book: Welcome to the museum that is always open to explore... Step inside the pages of Oceanarium to enjoy the experience of a museum from the comfort of your own home.

This stunning offering from the Welcome to the Museum series guides readers around the world's oceans, from sandy shorelines to the deepest depths. Get up close and personal with giant whale sharks, tiny tropical fish, majestic manatees and so much more, travel the world from frozen Arctic seas to shimmering coral reefs, and learn why it is so important that we protect our oceans.

Intricate artwork by rising star Teagan White combines with expert text by education officer Loveday Trinick from the National Marine Aquarium, UK. A stunning exploration of the underwater world, and a must-have for any animal enthusiast. Click Amazon to see interior
1 Winner
Begins July 20
Ends August 16 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA/CANADA addresses.
No P.O.Boxes & Canadian winner phone required
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist.  Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.