Sunday, April 21, 2024

These Tangled Threads: (A Southern Historical Fiction Book Set on the Early 1920's Biltmore Estate) by Sarah Loudin Thomas [Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780764242014
Bethany House
Paperback $17.99

About the book: 
Set in the shadow of Biltmore Estate, a poignant tale of friendship, restoration, and second chances.

Seven years ago, a hidden betrayal scattered three young friends living in the shadow of the great Vanderbilt mansion. Now, when Biltmore Industries master weaver Lorna Blankenship is commissioned to create an original design for Cornelia Vanderbilt's 1924 wedding, she panics knowing she doesn't have the creativity needed. But there's an elusive artisan in the Blue Ridge Mountains who could save her--if only she knew where to begin.

To track down the mysterious weaver, Lorna sees no other way than to seek out the relationships she abandoned in shame. As she pulls at each tangled thread from her past, Lorna is forced to confront the wounds and regrets of life long ago. She'll have to risk the job that shapes her identity, as well as the hope of friendship--and love--restored.

About the Author: Sarah Loudin Thomas ( is the author of numerous acclaimed novels, including The Finder of Forgotten Things, The Right Kind of Fool, winner of the 2021 Selah Book of the Year, and Miracle in a Dry Season, winner of the 2015 INSPY Award. She worked in public relations for Biltmore Estate for six years and is now the director of Jan Karon's Mitford Museum. A native of West Virginia, she and her husband now live in western North Carolina. Secret word: tangled

Where to purchase
Read to an excerpt

Watch for Chat With Vera's review, soon!

Begins April 21
Ends May 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone, and are freely given. Winner's prize copy is provided and mailed/shipped directly to the winner by author or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes. 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

LOVE'S PROMISE (Wyoming Sunrise Series #4) by Penny Zeller [Review]

My thoughts:  
Penny Zeller's "Wyoming Sunrise Series" concludes with book four, Love's Promise, and it is a top notch wrap up of the entire series. In this story we meet a redeemed young man whose grandmother had adopted and raised. She prayed fervently for him through his turbulent childhood and young life when he went astray.

As the story opens in Love's Promise, we meet Silas who is now a rancher and who has lovingly attached himself to an older couple providing help as needed and finding much love in return. Soon their needs bring their granddaughter, Amaya, to assist.

As the story develops, Silas' past catches up with him and brings trouble to the community. 

Thrown into this mix, Silas discovers three young children living on their own with no one accountable for them. He solicits the community's assistance in caring for the children until a permanent solution can be found.

As the author fleshes out the characters, she weaves an especially endearing story. Not just sweet living but with adventure and danger compounding the action.

I highly recommend this entire series; but if you can only read one, then Love's Promise is the winner.

Books 1-3 in Wyoming Sunrise Series

About the book: Can one man's love win a fragile woman's heart?

After Amaya Alvarado lost her fiancé to a senseless tragedy, she vows never to love again. Two years later, at her grandmother’s request, she travels to Poplar Springs to assist with the mercantile and help care for her ailing grandfather. During a stagecoach accident and a confrontation with nefarious outlaws, she crosses paths with a man named Silas McFadden who rescues her and the other passengers. A bond between them soon forms.

Silas is not the man he once was. After a stint on the wrong side of the law, he’s now a respectable rancher in Poplar Springs, Wyoming. After becoming a man of faith, he determines to live his life for the One who gave him a second chance. He just never imagined that second chance might include Amaya. Now all he has to do is ensure his past doesn’t return and destroy his and Amaya’s fragile relationship.

Amaya’s and Silas’s friendship soon grows, and she begins to trust him with everything but her heart. Can she push her growing feelings for him aside? After all, isn’t it betraying her fiancé to care for another man the way she has grown to care for Silas?

When the past comes back to haunt him and revenge is sought, can Silas protect the woman he has come to love?

Take a return trip to Poplar Springs, Wyoming, for Silas and Amaya's story. A surprise reunion brings all of your favorite Wyoming Sunrise characters together in the final installment of this well-loved series.

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The movie "Unsung Hero" about the band FOR KING + COUNTRY and their struggles [Giveaway]

Tickets available for EARLY ACCESS NIGHT

When David Smallbone's successful music company collapses, he moves his family from Australia to the United States in search of a brighter future. With nothing more than their six children, their suitcases, and their love of music, David (for KING + COUNTRY's Joel Smallbone) and his pregnant wife Helen (Daisy Betts) set out to rebuild their lives from the ground up. Based on a remarkable true story, a mum's faith stands against all odds; and inspires her husband and children to hold onto theirs.

Tickets available for EARLY ACCESS NIGHT

Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card
 Limited to US winners only.
Begins April 9 & Ends May 2
DISCLOSURE:  Secret word: song - Many thanks to Kingdom Faith Marketing Services, LLC for providing a sample of the movie for my review. Opinions are 100% my own. Giveaway prize is provided by publicist or Momentum Influencers and emailed directly to winner by provider. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Introducing inspiring young children's biography "Do Great Things for God" series of Christian women [Review & Giveaway]

Find all titles at: TheGoodBook
Suitable for ages 4 to 7
Free downloadable activity sheets, etc. available on site.

Let me introduce you to The Good Book biography series featuring Christian women. This review will feature three titles: Susannah Spurgeon, Fanny Crosby, & Queen Elizabeth II.

Susannah Spurgeon: The Pastor’s Wife Who Didn’t Let Sickness Stop Her by Mary K. Mohler & illustrated by Cecilia Messina

My thoughts:
  A lovely telling of the conversion of Susannah under the minstry and preaching of Charles Spurgeon. She later became his wife. The book shows how her life as his wife supported his ministry. She even established a "book fund" to collect funds for the distribution of Spurgeon's books to those who could not afford them.

Her health was poor and a frequent challenge creating hardships for her. She persisted in living out her life as a devoted pastor's wife.

The illustrations are charming and will capture the attention of young readers. This book, as with others in the "Do Great Things for God" series, has free online activities that can be downloaded. I am so glad to see this story included in the series. 

About the book: The true story of Susannah Spurgeon, the wife of British pastor Charles Spurgeon.

Susannah was married to a very gifted and busy preacher, who could not have done all he did without her support. Susie experienced poor health for much of her life but she did not let that stop her from serving. One key way that she served the wider church was by creating the Book Fund, which gave free copies of Charles' books to poor pastors who could not afford to buy them. Secret word: biographies

Fanny Crosby: The Girl Who Couldn't See But Helped The World To Sing by Laura Wickham & illustrated by Jess Rose

My thoughts:
  I absolutely love this children's biography of Fanny Crosby. The illustrations are superb and the story so very sweet and informative. Fanny Crosby's life could have been so sad and filled with desperation. But it wasn't. It was filled with life, poetry, joy, music.

Her hymns have brought a spirit of worship to my heart and to untold millions of others as well as shaped and instilled an understanding of our connection to God. We have found joy and assurance, peace and contentment, and promise of God's faithfulness in the words and musical compositions from this beloved lady. 

I am delighted with this series  and that young children, especially girls, can enjoy learning about Christian women's lives.

About the book: The true story of one of the world’s most famous hymn writers. Frances—or Fanny, as everyone called her—was blind for most of her life but rejoiced that the first thing her eyes would see would be "the face of Jesus in heaven.” Fanny used her extraordinary musical ability to write hymns we still sing today, such as "To God Be the Glory" and "Blessed Assurance".

This beautifully illustrated children's biography of Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) is part of a series designed to show kids that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Queen Elizabeth II: The Queen Who Chose To Serve by Alison Mitchell & illustrated by Emma Randall

My thoughts:
  For many people around the World, Queen Elizabeth II has been "their" lady, queen, monarch, and source of respect and pride. For others, such as myself - an American, she has been a respected and admired figure head of a major peaceful country with which America is allied. But she has been much more. She has been a gracious, admirable lady. And even more so, she has voiced her dependence on Almighty God, His Son, Jesus and lived her life as a strong advocate of Christianity.

This little biography of Queen Elizabeth II balances her life and the times in which she lived beautifully. The illustrations are lovely and showcase a myriad of personages with whom she interacted through the years. She truly had a remarkable reign.

Truly an interesting and good book to share with young girls.

About the book: Princess Elizabeth never expected to be Queen. But when she was ten, her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated and everything changed… Her father took over as King, but after 15 years on the throne, he died. So when she was just 25 years old, Elizabeth was crowned Queen and became the longest-serving monarch in British history.

This inspiring children’s biography of Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022) chronicles key moments in her life. It also highlights her Christian faith, in particular what she has said in her Christmas Day speeches.

Young children will learn more about the incredible life and faith of Britain’s longest-serving monarch and they will be inspired about the great things they can do for God.

April 7 to May 7 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies from the publisher to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and sent directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

The Soil in Jackie’s Garden by award-winning author Peggy Thomas and illustrated by Neely Daggett [Review & Giveaway]

This spring, celebrate "National Learn About Composting Day" with The Soil in Jackie's Garden by Peggy Thomas & illustrated by Neely Daggett.

ISBN: 9781948898164
Hardcover $18.99 Ages 6-8
Feeding Minds Press

My thoughts:  Out-of-doors season has arrived and one of the joys of the warm weather days is planting a garden - vegetables, fruits, or flowers. And they all require soil. And they all require digging.

It's what is in the soil plus sun and rain that makes the garden and all it's loveliness grow. In the delightfully entertaining and educational book, The Soil in Jackie's Garden, young Jackie learns all about how she can enrich the soil and what it takes to get the soil to be productive - including critters that wiggle and squirm down deep in the dark moist dirt.

This charming book displays vertically (a bit different from regular printings) and that just seems to help visualize how it takes going deep down for soil to be enriched and effective. Young readers will be enticed to get a shovel, make a compost pile, dig a garden, find an earth worm, and be in absolute awe when they see their seeds sprout and seedlings grow to fruition.

Feeding Minds Press accurately presents factual knowledge in a format that children can understand. Children learn that there is more than a visit to the grocery store to putting a meal on the table. It takes soil. It takes digging. It takes attention to our environment.

I highly recommend this book for families and libraries. 

About the book: Join Jackie and her garden friends in this charming picture book as they discover the wonders of gardening, soil secrets, and the magic of composting Jackie and her garden friends embrace the joys of planting a garden, nurturing and harvesting their own food, and recycling scraps to compost, ensuring that the magical cycle of growth and sustainability continues anew. Science facts about soil, plants, pollinators, decomposers, and more are included on every spread. Secret word: garden

A fantastic book to engage young readers in becoming environmental stewards, learning how to care for a garden, understanding a plant life cycle, discovering the power of pollinators and the importance of composting. Written in the cumulative style of "The House that Jack Built," this playful celebration of how things grow, return to the earth, and grow again will inspire young readers to try their hands at gardening and composting. Back matter includes information on the soil cycle and how to make a compost pile.

Begins April 6
Ends May 15 @ 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. Winner's prize is provided and sent directly to the winner by publicist or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible. for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Having fun with Candlewick children's books [Review & Giveaway]

The Princess and the (Greedy) Pea by Leigh Hodgkinson (ages 3-7)

My thoughts:
  The cover of this book is delightfully cute and the colors a palette of happiness. Throughout the book the illustrations are cute, colorful, and funny.

The storyline is that of a fractured nursery rhyme or fairy tale and it is told along the lines of a cumulative tale/rhyme. The "voice" changes a bit when the princess enters the story. The rhyme bounces along nicely.

The text itself..... The font is cute, kind of swirly but just absolutely too small. It is presented as black ink on a white background which is appropriate. However, some pages have the colored text on dark backgrounds which are hard to read. All in all, the text loses on this one.

The "pea" is a gluttonous character that gets fatter and fatter. He ends up being devoured by the princess in the end. These two elements are key to the story but I didn't care for them.

About the book: A gluttonous pea runs afoul of a very hungry princess in this playful cautionary tale inspired by a favorite cumulative rhyme and a classic fairy tale.

There was a green pea who swallowed a sprout. Without a doubt, a brussels sprout. What’s that about?

I am concerned about the small type font and also about the small
type on dark background. Difficult to read but cute illustrations.

This little pea is hungry! So hungry it swallows a sprout, slurps up some soup, munches the bread, gobbles the cake, noshes the pickle, guzzles the cheese, drinks all the tea, and even chomps down the table it’s all served on. After all that, it needs to sleep. But whose dinner did it steal? And whose mattress is the now-humungous pea resting under? With bold, delightfully detailed illustrations and a bouncy verse perfect for reading aloud, this wickedly funny mash-up of “The Princess and the Pea” and “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” will have little listeners clamoring for multiple helpings.

Taxi, Go! Hardcover by Patricia Toht & illustrated by Maria Karipidou (Ages 3-5)


My thoughts:
  Such a cute book and the Taxi takes on a personality of its own. Reminds me of books when my children were small about personable cars and trucks. Also, the cute story takes the reader all around town and the countryside as Taxi goes about taking riders ("fares") from place to place.

Young children who have never experienced a taxi ride learn about this special mode of getting about town.

I think this one is a winner!

About the book: With energy and exuberance, the author of Pick a Pine Tree and the illustrator of Angry Cookie pair up for a bustling day in the life of a big-city taxicab.

Today will be a busy day for Taxi! There are plenty of passengers to pick up, and they all need a ride—to a football game, a play, a business meeting, the airport, and more. Whizzing left, right, and through traffic, Taxi has to STOP for red lights and emergency vehicles. But after every stop, stop, stop, it’s Taxi . . . go, go, GO! Humming with musical rhyme and clever sound play, this vibrant take on a classic read-aloud theme radiates adventure and good fun. Brightly illustrated spreads of a happy urban world teem with details that vehicle-loving tots will pore over as they follow winsome Taxi through the work day and throughout the town until it’s time for bed.

Today Is for You! by Sally Lloyd-Jones & illustrated by Kevin Waldron (ages 3-7)

My thoughts:
  The rhyming text is chock full of cheerful, positivity, and enthusiasm as it encourages young children - especially "you" - to live life to the fullest, engage in the things you see and hear, be active, be engaging, be positive.

I really enjoyed reading the rhyme through from beginning to end as it started with the start of the day and ended at bedtime. Just full of enthusiastic encouragement.

The illustrations didn't focus on just one individual child, but had a variety of children busy filling the pages. There is a happy "circus" style and sense to the illustrations though no circus is actually pictured. I did not care for some of the text such as dark purple background and font in another lighter shade of purple. This seems to be a trend in children's books and I find it unwelcome. Overall, though, the book is quite readable and quite enjoyable.

I also found this to be different from previous books by this author as she typically writes for the Christian publishing houses. I have never seen a book by Sally Lloyd-Jones I did not like and this one is no exception.

About the book: Sheer exuberance fills the pages of this picture book celebration of the promise every day brings.

Where will you go on those traveling feet?
Who will you love? Who will you meet?
Be a little seed. Get carried away!
Go WILD into the brand-new day.

From the bustle of the morning to the quiet of bedtime, every new day is filled with possibility. Follow a group of children as they find fun at every turn—dancing, playing games, picnicking, reading a book, climbing a mountain, or just shouting out their enthusiasm to the world. Sally Lloyd-Jones’s upbeat text integrates with Kevin Waldron’s high-energy mixed-media illustrations for a story that exudes unabashed joy.

Little Green Donkey by Anuska Allepuz  (Ages 3-7)

My thoughts:
This is a simply told story of a picky eater. He fixates on a food (green grass) and eats it to excess. The result is he turns green. His mother despairs of convincing him to eat a variety of colorful foods, so he picks through a few. He settles on crunchy carrots. And then, alas, he turns orange as a carrot.

The purpose of the story is to show that our bodies need a variety of food and that we should not just pick one that we prefer. 

The illustrations are cute and capture the mood of the story quite well. 

About the book: Little Donkey loves eating grass. Grass is so juicy, zingy, sweet, and tangy! Mom asks him to please have a tiny taste of something else — oranges, watermelon, broccoli? — but a life of eating grass is just fine with Little Donkey. Until one day he spies his reflection in the watering hole and sees that he has turned green. Mom resumes her persuasion with new urgency. Apples and grapes? Yuck! No thank you! But carrots — carrots are crunchy, crispy, and delicious! Little Donkey is delighted with his new carrot-only diet and happy to transform from his all-green self to — oops! Pictures full of color and movement bring to life a charming story that will resonate with choosy eaters. Secret word: Tree

Winner's Choice of 1 Book
Begins March 27
Ends April 25 @ 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. Winner's prize is provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Chasing the Horizon (A Western Light #1) by Mary Connealy (Romantic, historical fiction) [Review]


Purchase 30% off
Reg. $16.99
ISBN: 9780764242656
My thoughts: This new historical fiction handles several subjects. One, the plight of women (and sometimes men) being wrongfully committed to insane asylums and the atrocious, inhumane treatment they received. Two, evil men who treated women under their care brutally. And three, the courage of pioneers along the wagon trail from east to west and dangers encountered.

As the author weaves this story, her characters are fleshed out giving the reader insight into their character and behavior. We love some and truly hate others. They show strength to overcome and the ability to adjust. Their astounding compassion toward others. And, yes, there is a sweet, budding romance. And the twisted mind, character, and deeds of the main protagonist show the depth of a man's evil.

At the end of their journey across the pages of this book, we find that perils still persist and this makes us as readers anticipate the author's next tale in the Western Light Series.

A book I highly recommend. 

About the book: Her only chance at freedom waits across the horizon...

Upon uncovering her tyrannical father's malevolent plot to commit her to an asylum, Beth Rutledge fabricates a plan of her own. She will rescue her mother, who had already been sent to the asylum, and escape together on a wagon train heading west. Posing as sisters, Beth and her mother travel with the pioneers in hopes of making it to Idaho before the others start asking too many questions.

Wagon-train scout Jake Holt senses that the mysterious women in his caravan are running from something. When rumors begin to spread of Pinkerton agents searching relentlessly for wanted criminals who match the description of those on his wagon train, including Beth, she begins to open up to him, and he learns something more sinister is at hand. Can they risk trusting each other with their lives--and their hearts--when danger threatens their every step? Secret word: Chase

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy the book to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.