Saturday, March 6, 2021

Unknown Threat (Defend and Protect #1) by Lynn H. Blackburn from Revell Publishing [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  Unknown Threat begins with a burst of action and continues in an action-paced read until the very end. It seems there are threats on every side and these are directed to those who normally protect those to whom the threat is directed.

Strong, smart, experienced agents in the US Secret Service are being picked off one  by one by an unknown entity and for an unknown reason. The FBI is called in to assess the situation and take charge of security, protection, and finding the culprit or culprits responsible.

It is refreshing to read an action packed story that doesn't include "adult" scenes or language. One you could hand your teen or grandmother to read. Yet, it is not boring nor does it soft peddle the issues at hand.

The author has a reputation for good, clean, suspenseful reads and Unknown Thread does NOT disappoint. This new "Defend and Protect" series hold much promise for exciting, rewarding reads.

I especially enjoyed reading the story because it was set in Raleigh, NC. I've always lived in North Carolina and Raleigh is the capital. For years, I lived a 30-mile drive from Raleigh currently have family in the area. To imagine this story on the streets of this lovely city touches the heart. And to think of strong, smart, federal agents at work in our capital brings a sense of safety even though the story draws a not-safe scenario. I wonder if the upcoming books in "Defend and Protect" will be on the streets of North Carolina cities.

I highly recommend.  

About the book: US Secret Service Special Agent Luke Powell is lucky to be alive. Three of his fellow agents have died in unusual circumstances in the past ten weeks. Luke is devastated by the loss of his friends and colleagues, and his inability to locate the killer feels like a personal failure. He's an expert at shielding others, but now the protectors are in need of protection.

FBI Special Agent Faith Malone is driven to succeed and confident in her ability to solve every case she's assigned. She's been put in charge of the investigation into the unprecedented attacks, and with Luke's life in danger, the stakes have never been higher. But it's hard to know how to fight back when you don't know who the enemy is.

As more agents are targeted, Luke and Faith will have to work together to bring a killer to justice and prevent any more names from joining their fallen brothers and sisters on the Secret Service Wall of Honor.

Begins March 6
Ends March 30 at 12:01 EDT
Open to Mainland USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Winner's prize copy if a copy of the book that I own and will be mailed to the winner by Vera who is not responsible for lost or misdirected prize. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

A bit of "geography" in Antarctica: A Continent of Wonder & Great Rivers of the World from Prestel Publishing [Review & Giveaway]

Great Rivers of the World by Volker Mehnert & illustrated by Martin Haake (ISBN: 978-3791374703; Hardcover $19.95; Ages 8-12; 40 pages)

My thoughts: 
Man has long realized that sustainable life requires access to water and often waterways. This book showcasing Earth's great rivers is a graphic/text portrayal of the richness that these rivers bring to a vast amount of people and lands.

Tidbits of information about the rivers as well as historic landmarks are provided in the graphics.

This is a sort of seek-and-find rather than story-text book. You read the short text about the river and then traverse the pages devoted to that specific river to glean the tidbits and fun information.

A fun book that provides a richness of information about great rivers. A fine book to have around when studying geography.

I recommend.

About the book: a vibrant, fact-filled book for kids that blends geography, history, and culture.

Where in the Rhein does the Nibelung Treasure lie? What river helps mark the prime meridian? Why do people make pilgrimages to the Indian city of Benares? Why is the Mekong called the "Nine Dragon" river in Vietnam? How does the Mississippi divide and unite the United States? These and hundreds of other facts are explored in this wonderfully illustrated atlas of the world's great rivers. Each spread in this book offers a colorful map packed with drawings, figures, and facts. Cities that border the rivers are highlighted, as are distinct flora and fauna, significant natural and human-made features, and fascinating historical details. A "biography" of each river describes where it flows, and its importance to the communities it passes through. Special attention is given to the ecological health of the rivers--those that are thriving and those in danger of losing their valuable habitats. Along the way, young readers will come to understand the enormous impact that rivers have on our lives, while learning valuable information in a way that will spark their curiosity and imagination.

Antarctica: A Continent of Wonder by Mario Cuesta Hernando & illustrated by Raquel Martín (ISBN: 978-3791374567; Hardcover $19.95; Ages 5-8; 48 pages).

My thoughts: 
This book is designated for ages 5 to 8 but I think at least upwards to age 12 is quite appropriate. This is a wonderful amount of information about this little known and understood continent, Antarctica.

I found the information about the whales and other sea life so clearly put forth as well as the impact the huge population of sea life in the region eats so much krill.

The sponges at the bottom of the sea in this are area thousands of years old. The cold is so cold and so unhabitable. The "summer" is so short and still so very cold. The ownership of this continent is mankind since many nations have agreed to keep it "unowned" and pristine. The research is ongoing and shared.

Quite an interesting book and such a grand amount of clearly stated information.

I highly recommend.

About the book: Come aboard the Polar Star and accompany its crew on their half-year stay in Antarctica. Through full-page illustrations, children will experience the work and life of these explorers and scientists as they study penguins, whales, and seals, measure the depth of the ice, chart wind speeds of up to 186 mph (300km/h), examine old volcanoes, and withstand some of the lowest temperatures ever recorded. Kids will also learn about Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott, the legendary explorers who first set foot on Antarctica. Equal parts thrilling adventure and in-depth exploration, this book is an unforgettable illustrated expedition to Antarctica that is sure to satisfy the boldest bedtime traveler.

Begins March 3
Ends March 28 @ 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 MMPublicity (publisist). Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Our Country’s Presidents 2020: A Complete Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency from National Geographic [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: 
This beautiful collection of information on the Presidents of the United States of America has a short biographic sketch of each individual that served as The President and also a plethora of information on government, processes, issues; and it is all presented in a respectful, engaging manner by the writers of National Geographic.

I was so impressed with the 2017 edition and here I am again totally impressed with this newer 2020 edition. It provides information about our newest elected President Joe Biden. But it isn't just the Presidents. Such a lot of information about our system of elections and government. The achievements of each president and how they fit into the ongoing scheme of American history is interesting and so well presented. Sure to impress readers of any age.

Sequenced chronologically, the reader can follow through how the country developed under the leadership of each of these Presidents. From our Country's inception and formative leadership, through years of discovery and expansion and on into the atomic age, America has grown guided by our governing principals and leaders who strove for America's best.

As with any publication about political figures, there is controversy. I am not delving into whether the book's narrative is biased for any political view. I am simply stating that this is a wonderful book that gives the publisher's and author's material. The photographs and other images are fabulous. This is a superb piece of educational material.

I highly recommend this book for school classrooms and libraries, public libraries, and home libraries. Invaluable for homes where homeschooling is done.

About the book: A completely updated edition of National Geographic’s Our Country’s Presidents 2020 is released every four years, timed to the inauguration.  

As the nation and world watched as events surrounding the pandemic, the election and the peaceful transfer of power unfolded, author Ann Bausum and the Nat Geo Kids Books editors raced to complete Our Country’s Presidents 2020: A Complete Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency (ages 10+, hardcover, $24.99, January 2021),  which profiles the 45 individuals who have served as President, plus includes extensive coverage of the 2020 presidential campaign as well as America’s newest commander in chief.  The teamwork and coordination behind creating this book is remarkable, but the results prove that it is well worth the effort.  I am so pleased to announce this latest edition's debut. 

Our Country’s Presidents has become THE gold standard as the most complete, timely encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency available.  This edition is fully up to date, featuring spreads that will fascinate the budding historian as well as the pop culture fanatic.  Timelines and descriptions of crucial events that occurred while each president was in office lay the foundation, while thematic spreads run the gamut of issues surrounding the presidency —including an explanation of the electoral college, the security and media that surround the president, a deep dive into the role of the vice presidency, presidential perks, the incredible challenges of choosing a president during a pandemic, campaign strategies, party politics, first ladies and so much more. 

Key features include: 

  • Information about President Biden and the 2020 election results 
  • A brand-new thematic spread on the impeachment process and its history
  • Revised terminology around the language of slavery and analysis of early presidents who benefitted from and relied on enslaved labor
  • Comprehensive profiles of all the former presidents along with timelines and descriptions of crucial events during their terms
  • Twenty thematic spreads covering a variety of topics, including the history of voting rights, the role that cash and conventions play in the election process and to how to write a letter to the president
  • Full-page portraits, famous quotes, and fascinating facts to help kids get to know each leader
  • More than 400 illustrations -- from period artwork to iconic photography

Our Country’s Presidents serves not only as an excellent reference but also as a singular volume that illustrates how the presidency has morphed over time.  

A Copy to a Chat With Vera Reader
Begins February 28
ENDS March 25 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA Addresses Only
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review from Media Masters Publicity on behalf of National Geographic and the author. Opinions are my own and are freely given. I was not compensated.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Sleep, Cat, Sleep! by Antje Damm (ISBN: 978-3791374482; Board Book $9.95; Ages 2-5)

My thoughts: 
Originally published in Germany, this board book is a tad old in attitude for babies that are normally the target for board books. The book reeks with humor and cat-attitude. 

Children who are early in their own reading careers and who are developing a sense of humor, will surely love this cute book.

Prestel Publishing in association with Penguin Random House have a reputation for bringing humor, European thinking, artistry a bit different from what we usually see here in the States. I delight to see just what Prestel Publishing is going to come up with next. 

Sleep, Cat, Sleep! will have your toddlers giggling at the cat and reader exchange in this sturdy little book. So be careful as you open the book..... cat wants to sleep.

About the book: It can be hard to fall asleep because who wants to stop playing, talking, and just having fun. Sometimes, it's just as difficult to stay asleep. There can be noises, lights, and many other distractions. Cat has this very problem in Sleep, Cat, Sleep! He's calmly resting until you open the book and wake him up. Every time he thinks it's safe to fall back asleep, you flip the page and bother him again! All he wants is for you to close the book so he can start dreaming away. Author and illustrator Antje Damm has created an uproariously funny book to help young children fall asleep. They will be delighted with all the different ways Cat can come up with to get kids to let him sleep. A new surprise awaits with every turn of the page, but we don't want to give away who falls asleep at the end of this book!

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

Monday, February 22, 2021

NIV Verse Mapping Bible is available in youth and adult versions for Bible study [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  This study Bible uses the NIV translation of the Christian Bible - Old Testament and New Testament. My preferred translation is the old standard King James Version. In the study aids provided with the verse mapping system in this edition, specific verses are referenced in the NIV with specific words for study underscored. These verses and words are then looked at in two other versions or translations. 

The readers can then analyze the verse and make application for his- or herself.

The pages of Scripture only have wide outside margins allowing for the reader to pen his own thoughts and application to verses as he reads along. 

The 8-point font is small for my old eyes though younger readers might find them quite suitable. The font type itself is somewhat easy to read though very small to me. This NIV is in paragraph format so the verse numbers and line breaks normally seen in KJV and NKJV, etc. are extremely tiny, but said numbering does allow for comparison to verses in other versions. 

I have circled the study aids or notes. Helpful, but not extensive.

There are virtually no study notes or aids for Bible study to direct the reader. So aside from the specific verses laid out with comparative translations to the verse, the reader has virtually an unadorned Bible with which to study. Ideal for some and hard for some. 

I once knew a college professor from a Bible College who studies Scripture by diagraming the sentences. That is really difficult. Whilst this Verse Mapping system is not diagraming the verses like a sentence is diagramed, it is looking closely at the verse, comparing it, applying it to the context, and application for oneself as well.

These Verse Mapping Bibles will work well for some. Others will do well to procure something different. I would suggest that you look at the Verse Mapping Bible Facebook page (Click Here) and follow along as the editor, Kristy Cambron guides those interested. You can use a composition book to start out and following the guidance she gives. This will introduce you to the concept of Verse Mapping and perhaps you'll see that one of these special Verse Mapping Bibles is just what you need in your quest to study the Bible.


Go beyond just reading the Bible. Verse mapping means getting real about studying the Bible. More than simply reading a verse or Scripture passage, verse mapping means using Bible study tools to research what you’ve just read in the Bible—to learn more about what God is saying to you and how you can apply his Word to your life today. 

In the NIV Verse Mapping Bible, author Kristy Cambron expands her verse mapping curriculum series to include verses from the entire Bible, showing you how to compare Bible translations, pick out meaningful words, and delve into the true meaning of each verse using starter verse maps and prompts. Verse mapping will help you study the historical context, transliteration, translation, connotation, and theological framework of a verse. This unique study technique includes exploring Hebrew and Greek word studies, finding connections in Scripture, comparing Bible translations, and learning as much as you can from your time in God’s Word. 

Verse mapping involves five steps:

  1. Choose: Select a verse and write it out.
  2. Compare: Record this verse in two or three other Bible translations and underline key words that are the same or different between translations.
  3. Research: Look up the Hebrew or Greek meaning for the underlined words and record it.
  4. Consider: Ask questions of the verse. Imagine what it would be like to have experienced what’s happening. Read the verses surrounding this verse and use other study tools to dig even deeper, if you prefer.
  5. Apply: What is God saying to you? How does this verse relate to your life today?


  • Full text of the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV)
  • Guided instructions on how verse mapping works, how to start, and how to get the most from your mapping
  • 350 partially completed verse maps with pre-selected verses in multiple Bible translations and helpful Hebrew or Greek word studies
  • Includes directions on how to use the Reverse Interlinear feature on to research the Greek and Hebrew translations for these 350 verses for free
  • More than 70 blank verse maps for your own inductive Bible study journey
  • 66 book introductions
  • Presentation page
  • Topical index
  • Satin ribbon marker
  • Cloth over board cover lays flat when open
  • Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print® typeface
  • 8-point print size

Purchase a Verse Mapping Bible - CLICK HERE

You have an opportunity to win a copy for yourself or for gifting to someone you care about. Enter below..... #GIVEAWAY ENDS MARCH 9, 2021


DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Giveaway is hosted at and they or their publicist or publisher of Bible is responsible for provided and shipping winner's Bible directly to them. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Settle in with some Candlewick Press picture books that entertain and educate [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

Over the Shop by Jonarno Lawson & illustrated by Qin Leng (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536201475, Ages 3-7)

My thoughts: 
A wordless book that tells a wonderful story. A story of a joyful little girl. A tired, grumpy older lady (aunt, grandmother, old-before-her-time mother), a struggling general store, and an empty apartment.

Daily the tired, grumpy lady gets up, cooks breakfast for herself and the little girl. Then the routine of the day begins with opening the shop, setting out on the sidewalk various displays.

The imagery is touching, telling, compelling. The lady and child are struggling. The empty apartment is in ruinous state. But they put a sign out "Apartment for Rent." And then the parade of "no's" begins. So disheartening.

But then a bi-racial couple arrives and says a positive "yes" to the apartment. The old lady is not so sure. But time passes......

And the ending is glorious in showing what a bit of love, joy, paint, kindness can do to change so much.

I highly approve this book. 

About the book: A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the quarters above their store will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the possibilities of the space—until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl’s big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways. In this bustling wordless picture book, JonArno Lawson’s touching story and Qin Leng’s gentle illustrations capture all angles of the building’s transformation, as well as the evolving perspectives of the girl and her grandparent. A warm and subtly nuanced tale, Over the Shop throws open the doors to what it means to accept people for who they are and to fill your home with love and joy.

The Boy Who Loved Everyone by Jane Porter & illustrated by Maisie Paradise Shearring (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536211238, Ages 3-7)

My thoughts: 
This is a lovely book about love shinning through. About blindness to differences in people of color, ethnic difference, nice-to-you, not-so-nice, old, young alike. 

It is also a story of hurt and disappointment when genuine, freely shared love is looked down on, ignored, brushed-off.

It also a story of giving love a bit of time to grow.

A very nice story.

About the book: Dimitri may be small, but his heart is as big and as open as a cloudless blue sky. “I love you,” Dimitri tells his new classmates at preschool. “I love you,” Dimitri tells the class guinea pig and the ants on the ground. “I love you,” Dimitri tells the paintbrushes and the tree with heart-shaped leaves. So why doesn’t anyone say “I love you” back? Could love also be expressed in unspoken ways? In a familiar story of navigating the social cues of new friendship, author Jane Porter and illustrator Maisie Paradise Shearring offer a thoughtful tribute to the tender ones—those who spread kindness simply by being, and who love without bounds.

So You Want to Be an Owl by Jane Porter & illustrated by Maddie Frost (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536215212, Ages 5-9)

My thoughts: 
Oh my! I so very much enjoyed this book. I know my great-grand-child who is now reading will totally enjoy it. 

It is funny. It is cute. It is simply packed with owl facts. And it also has comparisons between owls in general and people. What they eat. How their eyes and ours are made different. 

Delightfully entertaining and educational.

About the book: Welcome to Owl School! Professor Olaf Owl is here to tell you everything you need to know about being an owl, from hunting to camouflage to seeing in the dark. Study hard, and soon you’ll be a first-rate member of Team Owl! This engaging nonfiction picture book is full of vibrant, humorous illustrations and owl lessons that will have readers eagerly practicing their hoots, toe swivels, and alertness (even if they can’t grow feathers).

Winning entries will be verified
Begins February 21
Ends March 16 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
No P.O. Boxes & Canadians must provide phone number
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate reviews of these books. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' copies are provided and shipped directly to the winners by Candlewick Press or its publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, February 15, 2021

The King James Version Study Bible, Full Color, Leathersoft™ Brown/Red cover from Thomas Nelson Bibles [Review & Giveaway]

God's Word is precious! It should be handled with care and respect. And the printing of God's Word should reflect this respect. When I saw this beautiful King James Version Study Bible from Thomas Nelson, I was immediately drawn to it. The binding is beautifully done and the Bible lays flat for easy reading or laying upon one's desk. 

The cover is flexible two-toned LeatherSoft™, has beautiful gold foil page edging, and convenient thumb index.

The text is quite readable for my tired old eyes. That is very important! The print is consider a "large print" but not so noticeably large as some large print text. The paper, while thin, does not have text bleed-through or shadow-through to interfere with reading.

I am not an authority or qualified to review the study aids in this printing nor any other. But I can share my personal insights in the quality of Bible, ease of use, beauty of presentation, and prolific articles on people, places, history, organization, archeology. I do find that the numbering system developed for this study Bible which connects the words and their meaning quite useful and clearly illustrated and explained at the beginning. The system utilized is different from my KJV study Bible that I have had more than 30 yeas and much more extensive.

Note the woman icon which indicates personality/bio information and the shovel icon which indicates archeological information pertinent to this section.

This study Bible has maps, photographs, and illustrations in full color. There are extensive archeological notes, biographic or personality studies of men and women of the Bible, outlines of the books of the Bible, and doctrinal studies. All this brings a strong impact on the reading and understanding of Scripture.

This is certainly an impressive Study Bible, and I love that it is in the beloved, and tried-and-true King James Version. 

I do have concerns, though. As we all know, the Bible containing the Old and New Testaments is in itself alone a very large print book. Adding some reference notes or cross references adds to that largeness. To add the great quantity of additional information that this Bible printing has creates an extremely large, heavy Bible. Frequent use, handling, page turning, carrying about will definitely create wear and tear making this "life time" Bible wear out early. A heavy Bible is hard to hold in one's hands for reading so placing atop the desk or table for reading is most likely a must do.

Bible Description: Standing apart from all other KJV study Bibles on the market, the King James Study Bible, Full Color Edition is the only Bible featuring extensive commentary, doctrinal notes, archaeological insights, and time-tested study aids developed exclusively for the King James Version. Now available with stunning full-color designs, Holy Land images, classic works of art, charts, and maps, the King James Study Bible, Full Color Edition guides you through the vivid beauty and authority of God’s Word as you grow in your biblical knowledge.

For over a quarter of a century, Thomas Nelson has earned the trust of millions with the best-selling King James Study Bible, offering the standard of conservative KJV scholarship. Our tradition and commitment to KJV study continues with the release of the King James Study Bible, Full Color Edition.

Features include:

  • Beautiful full-color throughout
  • Easy-to-read 10-pt type large print
  • 5,700 authoritative and study notes
  • Center-column references with translation notes
  • Hundreds of color maps and charts
  • Over 100 archaeological notes
  • Over 100 personality profiles
  • Over 200 notes on Christian doctrines
  • Easy-to-navigate topical indexes
  • Book introductions and outlines
  • Word-study concordance
  • Time-honored KJV Bible text

Learn more and purchase the Bible - CLICK HERE  

CLICK HERE to enter. Giveaway ENDS March 1, 2021. 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this Bible in order to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. I received the Bible from publicist Front Gate Christian on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishers.