Monday, April 30, 2012

God Helps Me Bible by Juliet David; illustrated by Clare Caddy

"Specially designed for very young children, the God Helps Me Bible features a spiral binding that allows the book to lay flat on a table, floor or lap, leaving little hands free to turn pages and point out fun details in Clare Caddy's darling illustrations. Presenting twenty-five favorite Bible stories using simple words and concepts, each story emphasizes how God loves and helps his world and people. "
My comments:  When I picked up this beautiful little book, I was delighted to sense a luxurious feel and heft to the book and the pages.  Lovely and yet study for little hands that are just learning how to hold and love a book.  The texture is smooth (as satin), feels good, looks good, and is not too heavy for the young child (ages 3 to 6) to hold.  I envision a 3-year-old treasuring this little book and wanting Mommy to "read another" throughout the day.  I see the child learning the basics of each of the featured Bible stories and learning how God has helped people in Bible times through the years.  The child can learn how God will help him, too, in his life.  

Mommy and Daddy can use each and every one of these stories to plant the love of God who is our helper into the heart of a child.  At the same time, the basis of the stories is laid down and a foundation for more complete learning later in the process of growing and learning.

Colorfully and tenderly illustrated by Claire Caddy the faithful retelling of Bible stories by Juliet David is indeed a treasure for the hands of your little one.  It is a book I would have loved to have when raising my 5 children years ago. 

I was provided  a complimentary review copy by Kregel Publications for the purpose of providing an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not required to render a positive review.

ISBN: 9781859859162  Publisher:  Candle books, a publishing imprint of Lion Hudson Plc

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"The Color of Freedom" by Michelle Isenhoff: YA Book Review

About the book:  Fourteen-year-old Meadow Wynn McKenzie hates the British. Turned off her Irish farm and forced to book passage to America as an indentured servant, Meadow understands why the rebels wish to throw off the yoke of King George’s rule. But is freedom worth the cost?

Then, forced to flee her master, Meadow disguises herself as a boy and takes up with a traveling tinker. While winding toward Boston to reunite with her father, she’s moved by the courage, pride and determination of the American patriots, but their Puritan roots run deep.

Before she can embrace the cause of her new homeland, Meadow must carefully consider a future amongst Puritan hatred for her Catholic beliefs. Would liberty apply to Irish, to Negroes, to Quakers, to Jews, to Catholics? Or would that slogan be cast aside when majority rule served the majority? Perhaps the colonists had simply invented a new kind of tyranny.

But war will not wait for Meadow’s decision. (Ages 12+)  (copied from

About the author:  Michelle says.... "I write for kids.  In my books, you can expect adventure and substance, but I'll always respect the innocence of our children."   (
My thoughts:  It is 1775 and the American Colonies are a true tempest in a teapot of strife between the British King, the loyalists (British settlers in the Colonies), and the Patriots. Folks must truly watch their words and make certain their actions don't precipitate a loss of property, livelihood, or even death.Publisher: CreateSpace (November 18, 2011) 

The Color of Freedom takes you directly into this period of American history and into the life and circumstances of young Meadow McKenzie.  This 14 year old young lady and her father lost their home in Ireland and were forced into indentured servanthood in America.  In addition to being an indentured servant, she is sold and separated from her father - the only living relative she knows.  But the young McKenzie begins to mature and this draws the unsavory and unwanted attentions of her "master."  She manages to escape and flees to Boston where she knows her father is located.

Not only does she have the stigma of being a "bought" being - an indentured servant, she is a Catholic; and Catholics are not wanted in the area near Boston.

War is at hand and so is danger.  Danger from discovery.  Danger from her religious affiliation.  Danger from the perils of war.  But Meadow proves a strong, resourceful, and clever youngster who plays a viable and valuable role in the conflict between the British and Patriots.

This is an exceptionally well written book for young adults with accurate historical background.  It is obvious that Michelle Isenhoff has garnered good facts to create a dependable historical novel of the  period.  I recommend this for school libraries, home libraries, and gifts for the young and young adult reader.  It was a pleasure to read a book well researched and absent of any vulgarities, profanities, and obsenities.
Of interest - Indentured servanthood ( ) Workers, usually Europeans, including Irish, Scottish, English, or German immigrants, immigrated to Colonial America in substantial numbers as indentured servants, particularly to the British Thirteen Colonies. In the 17th century, nearly two-thirds of English settlers came as indentured servants, although indentured servitude was not a guaranteed route to economic autonomy. Given the high death rate, many servants did not live to the end of their terms. In the 18th and early 19th century, numerous Europeans traveled to the colonies as redemptioners, a form of indenture.
ISBN-13: 978-1466495807
I was provided a complimentary copy of The Color of Freedom by the author, Michelle Isenhoff, for review and to be placed in the Alamance Christian School library.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Forgiven Duke by Jamie Carie: Book Review & Giveaway

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Howard B. Wigglebottom Listens to His Heart" by Howard Binkow: Review

Howard B. Wigglebottom is a delightful bunny that has a bit of difficulty with life.  He encounters bullies.  He doesn't listen.  He needs to learn to share and to give.  He needs to learn to listen to his heart.

Author Howard Birkow understands children's needs and the struggles they face on the playground and in the classroom.  He and illustrator Susan F. Corneilson have put together a series of 10 books that will help a young child manage the bully he encounters on the playground.  The feeling he has to keep all his toys for himself and not to share.  The tendency to not listen.

You will delight in the antics of Howard B. Wigglebottom in his saddest moments and when he leaps from joy.  Why, he almost leaps off the page and right into your heart.

The We Do Listen Foundation has made the production of these books available and also a delightful website where you and your child can see the books in animated format.  You can listen to and download songs.  You can also print activity pages and play games.  This is at no cost to you.   Also, you can purchase the hardcover books at a discounted rate on the website.

Our school has the collection of 10 Howard B. Wigglebottom books in its library and I have read each of them.  Frankly, I can not pick my "most favorite one."  Each is delightful. I recommend these for the young child and for the school or classroom library.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"The Wedding Dress" by Rachel Hauck: Book Review

Most everyone loves a wedding, especially when the bride wears a beautiful white gown - a gown representing her beauty and purity. The cover of  The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck beautifully depicts a graciously beautiful wedding dress worn by a 1912 bride.  This is the story of that dress.

It begins with Emily in 1912 and her upcoming socialite wedding.  She is a young lady with a decidedly "modern" opinion about matters and has a mind of her own.  She is daring and courageous and caring.  Her family is determined to put Emily into a dress that doesn't fit her body or her personality, but Emily has plans of her own.

Flash forward to the current year and meet Charlotte Malone, the proud owner of Malone & Company, a bridal salon for upscale weddings and for the bride who doesn't want to wear your run-of-the-mill dress.  Talented as Charlotte is at finding the absolutely most perfect dress for each and every bride, she hasn't found one for herself to wear to her own upcoming wedding.

In the ensuring 90+ years between the original wearing of the dress and the current story involving the dress, we have two other brides who have worn the dress.  The dress that fit each one perfectly. 

Charlotte finds this extraordinary dress and hangs it on a dress form in her own bedroom.  The dress seems to exude a magical aurora and the gold thread with which it is sewn gives it a sense of ethereal beauty.

The story of the Wedding Dress has an allegory essence to it because if you liken it to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.......
It never wears out.
It fits everyone who tries it on.
It doesn't need to be altered.
And it's always in style.
I recommend this book as a pleasant read and romp through time  hanging onto the tail of a beautiful wedding dress.

I received a complimentary copy this book from BookSneeze and the publisher, Thomas Nelson, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  I received no compensation for this review.
ISBN:  9781595549631

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"The 5 Love Languages for Children" by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell: Book Review & Giveaway

People are different in each and every aspect of their being.  And children are people.  They are not "little adults" and they are not a different species.  And every has needs - children, young adults, adults.  And one of those very real needs is to be loved and to experience love.

About the book:  To be their best, children need to feel loved. But if you and your child speak different love languages, your affection might get lost in translation, affecting the child’s attitude, behavior, and development. Dr. Gary Chapman’s groundbreaking Five Love Languages series has helped millions of couples communicate love more clearly, and Dr. Ross Campbell M.D. has applied the innovative system to children as well. The 5 Love Languages of Children gives practical suggestions for learning how your children interpret love and creating a sense of security in which they can thrive.

And just as each and every person's individuality is different, the specific need and way to experience love is different.  Co-authors Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell define these as the "love languages."  Mr. Chapman has written several books to assist in understanding one another's love languages.  "The 5 Love Languages of Children" gives parents and other caregivers of children insight into the how and why you need to learn these love languages to better understand, teach,  love, and discipline your child so that he or she will grow into the person God has ordained him or her to be.  

 Let's take a quick look at them.
  1. Physical Touch
  2. Words of Affirmation
  3. Quality Time
  4. Gifts
  5. Acts of Service
Godly discipline is also addressed in the book and how it has a positive affect on your child's development whereas to discipline in anger has a definitively  negative affect on the child.

"We can prime our child's learning pump by continually filling his emotional tank." (pg. 148)

Another good point that the author makes is, "It does not make good sense to demand good behavior from a child without first making sure he feels loved."  (pg. 130)

This book, "The 5 Love Languages of Children" can be used along with the author's children's version that reinforces the same thoughts - "The Perfect Pet for Peyton" which is also review here on Chat With Vera. 

If parents and caregivers desire to understand their child and desire to better their understanding of the child's love language, I recommend they acquire a copy of this book and implement the points Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell outline.
GIVEAWAY:  The publishers have graciously provided my review copy of "The 5 Love Languages for Children" and they have also provided the opportunity for you to win one in a GIVEAWAY here on Chat With Vera.  To enter (no great big hoops to jump through)..... (Each comment becomes an entry) Begins April 14 ENDS April 30 at 12:00 Noon EDT.  Open for US residents only.

Mandatory entry:  Leave a comment here on Chat With Vera telling me how you would use "The 5 Love Languages for Children
" if you won it. (leave your contact information such as suzy at yahoo dot com)
Extra entry:  Tell me in another comment if you have ever read any of Gary Chapman's "love language" books. (leave contact info, please) 
Extra entry:   Tweet this review/giveaway and leave the Twitter link in the comment.  May do daily for separate daily entries (leave contact info).
Extra entry:  Share this review on some other social media or on your own blog or forum and leave the link in the comment below. (leave contact info) 
Published:  2012 by Northfield Publishing
ISBN: 0802403476 (ISBN13: 9780802403476)
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy of "The 5 Love Languages for Children" by Northfield Publishing, the authors, and Fly By Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Leaving Carolina by Tamara Leigh: Book Review

Let's visit Pickwick, North Carolina.  Home of the Pickwick family.  Piper Wick had left her hometown of Pickwick twelve years ago, gotten rid of that Southern drawl, changed her name (a bit).  She is a big-wig in the public relations business in LA and she is just about to become engaged to a US Congressman.  Piper just about has a perfect life WITHOUT the help of the Pickwick's of North Carolina.

But her Uncle Obadiah Pickwick has surfaced in her life with health problems (you do get them as you "age") and a change of heart that involves the Pickwick money and past family secrets and troubles.

So Piper travels "home" to Pickwick to do her part.

There is now a man at the scene that is somehow involved in Uncle Obadiah's change of heart and desire for restitution.  So an enchanting mystery of circumstances and hearts unfolds.  Piper trying to do her part with her PR skills.  Some truth.  And a generous dose of the Lord's help.

Prepare yourself for an enjoyable reader's ride into North Carolina and Tamara Leigh's very good writing.

I read this book through my local Public Library and was not asked or implored or whatever to render any review at all.  I just wanted to share my "take" on another "Carolina" book with you folks.

ISBN: 9781601421661

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"Boys of Wartime" Daniel at the Siege of Boston 1776 by Laurrie Calkhoven: Book Review

"Twelve-year-old Daniel cheered when American colonists dumped English tea into Boston Harbor to protest taxes. But King George sends soldiers to punish the rebellious colonists, and friends turn on one another to protect themselves. Daniel works in the family tavern and spies on Redcoat officers after his father leaves to fight with the Patriots. He soon learns how to slip vital information across British lines to his father and General Washington. He must face his fear and put his life in danger. But, to a Patriot, liberty is well worth any risk."*
My eight-year-old grand daughter was visiting and she is into reading "chapter books."  So I was delighted when she wanted to read this book.  Her reaction?  She thoroughly enjoyed it, saying....

"It was exciting and very interesting to read but a little scarey in places." We visited "Old Salem" in North Carolina shortly after she read this book, and she wanted badly to visit the Old Salem Tavern because "Daniel worked in the family tavern" in the story.  Sadly, it was closed at this time because of renovations.  Her reaction to Daniel's story is that she wants MORE!
This book is one of the series "Boys of Wartime" and takes the young reader right into the heart of the action during the period 1775-1776.  A young reader can envision himself as "Daniel" as he hears conversations from the Redcoats (British) and decides that he, a "mere child" can also do a part for the Patriots in the colonist fight for freedom.

As I read this children's book, I was surprised at the vivid descriptions of life during this time of war and siege.  Fear of the enemy in his father's tavern as his mother cares and cooks for the British military leaders and as he, Daniel, serves them their food.  Fear at seeing a "spy" hanged whilst the British hold him, Daniel, firmly.  Fear as he runs through the countryside to reach the Patriots' encampment only to be accosted by a bullet from a "frontiersman's" long rifle.  The book completely convinced me that this engaging story can indeed carry the young reader right into the Siege of Boston beside Daniel.

ISBN-13: 978-0142417508
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of "Daniel at the Siege of Boston 1776" by author, Laurie Calkhoven, in exchange for an honest review. 
*From a description on

Christ is Worthy of Our Service

"Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created." Rev. 4:11

When we consider Christ and the sacrifice He made to redeem mankind by His substitutionary death on the cross, we can do nothing less than acknowledge that He is Worthy.  And because Christ is Worthy, we can live and be what He desires us to be in this life on Earth. 

We can, if called to do so, minister in hard places.  Two such hard places are presently on my heart and mind. 

An old friend has ministered in the hard place of Africa for years.  Hardships and handicaps, sacrifices and service, deprivation and dejection.  However, he has continued to minister in this hard place.  That is until just recently when apposing political and religious factions have necessitated the evacuation of he and his family and the Christians in their small community.  Their very lives depended on evacuation.  However, I am sure that when God permits, he will return to minister in that hard place. 

Because Christ is Worthy.

A second hard place of ministry that is on my heart is that of the military chaplain.  They are called upon to represent God in desperate circumstances and to desperate military personnel.  One such said, "...Chaplains are the bearers of the presence of God, the physical reminder that God is always with us."  "Chaplains practice the Ministry of Presence, the Emmanuel Factor - God with us.  A chaplain touches a life in such a way that has significant ramification for all eternity."*

All because Christ is Worthy.

*[CIU Connection, "The Military Chaplain, Spring 2012]

Friday, April 6, 2012

"The Great Divide" by T. Davis Bunn: Book Review

After devastating personal tragedy, attorney Marcus Glenwood resigns from a prestigious corporate law firm to retreat to a small town in North Carolina.  He is approached by a couple whose daughter was investigating the labor practices of a shoe company positioned in China - the firm's slave-like practices used to make it the world's largest manufacturer of sports wear and shoes.  The couple's distress over their missing daughter causes Glenwood to come out of retirement and take the case.

This story literally takes you all over the World as Marcus untangles deceit from Washington, DC through Europe and into Asia.  Even in North Carolina.  ­­­­

Power corrupts, as does money.  Slave labor enables the gigantic sports wear company to virtually move the mighty mounts of politics, international shipping and labor laws - manipulating, intimidating, and removing opposing forces.  However,  Marcus Glenwood also proves to be a force with which they must reckon as he begins to chisel at the mountain of deception revealing the horrific truth about the company and the missing investigative reporter, Gloria Hall.

The human rights issues involved in the corrupt practices in China and other countries where the labor force is denied any form of human rights and where they are kept under guard expected to produce products for shipping to the "free" world - a world they know nothing of.

As usual, T. Davis Bunn writes a captivating read that remains in the Christian fiction camp but can easily cross over into the secular realm.  I recommend this to anyone desiring a good read that is like reading behind the headlines of the morning newspaper revealing the corruption that lies in the political world a well as the garment industry.

I borrowed this book to read from my local public library.
ISBN-13: 978-0385502870     Publisher:  WaterBrook Press

Hiding in Plain Sight by Amy Wallace: Book Review

Welcome to small town middle-Georgia in a struggle to revitalize the small town's businesses, not trouble the local Mennonite community, and the machinations of a group that seems intent to modernize and expand the area into a commercial tourist mecca.

Factor in a trouble teen who just happens to be Mennonite and who has a penchant for playing with matches and you have a perfect storm for mischief by unknown parties.  You have an opportunity to nefariously acquire coveted Mennonite land for purposes other than farming.

When Ashley, the lead female character, is involved as a police officer investigating incidences of vandalism and personal harm to individuals, her own troubled past colors her thinking and emotional involvement.

It is hard to pinpoint the male lead character.  I'd say it most likely is Patrick, a resident counselor who is introduced socially to Ashley.  They strike up an emotionally charged relationship.  He understands, as a friend and as a counselor, Ashley's buried emotional minefield and seeks to diffuse it as she gradually reveals bits and pieces of herself to him.

Amy Wallace has written a story revealing more of the Mennonites' peaceful life and faith and their ability to forgive as the Heavenly Father forgives.  I recommend this as a pleasant, interesting, and revealing read.
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4731-2  Publisher:  Harvest House 
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy of "Hiding in Plain Sight" by the publisher, Harvest House Publishers, in exchange for my honest review and opinion.  I was not required to render a positive review.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"The Last Plea Bargain" by Randy Singer: Book Review & Giveaway

Randy Singer is a veteran trial attorney turned author of legal suspense fiction.  His most recent release, The Last Plea Bargain, takes the reader into the world where crime, the law, and the system collide. 

Begin with Jamie Brook, an assistant district attorney, who simply is not a "deal cutter." Simply a resounding, "No!", to plea bargains.  Enter the scene a powerful defense attorney, Caleb Tate, whose wife dies of an overdose.  Said defense attorney is indicted for his wife's murder, and he just happens to be the attorney that defended the man that killed Jamie's mother.

Irony! Jamie must prosecute Caleb Tate.  But then a real legal crossroads is encountered.  A log jam of  "no plea bargains"  causes the legal system to literally spin out of control until it basically comes to a standstill.  All because of the machinations of Caleb Tate.

It is refreshing to be able to read an extremely well-written book with a spiritual message woven into the plot but without the air of a sermon.  There are no embarrassing scenes and no foul language.  Randy Singer has been compared to John Grisham, but I see Mr. Singer as far excelling in his writing style and ability, story telling that grips, authenticity, and presentation of a really clean read.

While I can not assess legal authenticity myself, I feel that Mr. Singer's books simply abound in the "real thing."  His beautifully crafted story and character development brings to life realistic people and events of the real world.

The complex plot and levels in the story are great and make for an interesting, challenging, and enjoyable read.  I recommend The Last Plea Bargain and don't think you'll be disappointed.

GIVEAWAY - CLOSEDTyndale House Publishers and Side Door Communications have graciously provided an opportunity for one of my readers to receive a certificate to obtain a copy of The Last Plea Bargain by Randy Singer and a signed book plate to insert in your book.   Opens April 5 and ENDS April 20 at 12:00 Noon EST.  Open in USA only.  The winner will be selected using  Winner will have 48 hours to respond to email notification with shipping info and claim prize – if no response, another winner will be chosen .(You MUST leave your email in comment for me to contact you.  Example: suzy @ yahoo [dot] com - is pretty safe method.)

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ISBN-13: 9781414333212  Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Randy Singer is a critically-acclaimed, award-winning author and veteran trial attorney. He was recently a finalist with John Grisham and Michael Connelly for the inaugural Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and the ABA Journal. He has authored 10 legal thrillers, including the 2003 Christy Award-winning Directed Verdict, Irreparable Harm, Dying Declaration, Self Incrimination, The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney, False Witness, By Reason of Insanity (2009 Christy Nominee), The Justice Game (CBA Bestseller), and Fatal Convictions as well as the novella, The Judge Who Stole Christmas. He has also authored or co-authored three nonfiction titles. Randy runs his own law practice and was recently named to Virginia Business magazine’s select list of “Legal Elite” litigation attorneys. He also serves as a teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, VA. He calls it is “Jekyll and Hyde thing”—part lawyer, part pastor. He teaches classes in advocacy and civil litigation at Regent Law School Randy and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach and have two adult children. Visit his Web site at
"Randy pens legal thrillers designed to entertain his readers while confronting them with biblical truths on controversial issues."

".....he is a preaching lawyer: proof positive that God can use anybody to do anything."
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary Advance Reader Copy of  The Last Plea Bargaub by Tyndale House Publishers and Side Door Com. in order to render an honest review.  I was not required to provide a positive review.  The giveaway copy certificate is also provided to the winner by Tyndale House Publishers.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen: Book Review

Julie Klassen gives us an absorbing glimpse into the life of 1800s London in The Maid of Fairbourne Hall. Historical fiction with a bit of romance in a well-researched  pleasurable read. The female lead character is Margaret Macy.  Margaret is a 19th century woman who is in the cusp of receiving her inheritance when it becomes evident that a plot is afoot to marry her off to a dishonorable man.

Margaret Macy absolutely must leave because her stepfather and would-be fiancé are plotting for her inheritance through this unwanted marriage. She leaves the only life she has known stealthily and seeks employment in a home as a housemaid - knowing full-well she doesn't know a single thing about housework.

In Margaret's new place of employment, she encounters Nathaniel Upchurch, the second son in the household, a former romantic interest of Margaret's, and the male lead character.  Nathaniel is a man of strong character and resolve. 

The status conflict between servant help and their rank is revealed early in the story.  Now employed at Fairbourne Hall, our untrained servant and former upper class lady, Margaret, discovers she might soon be revealed because of her rank (pun intended) lack of skills.

We are given a good look at the classic interaction and rank among the servants that was so prevalent in the 1800s London home.  Getting to see what life was like for the servants of each level is an interesting journey into history.  I remember visiting Biltmore House in Asheville, NC and seeing the servants' work area and also the servants' sleeping areas.  There were distinct differences and the accommodations for the servants, while adequate, were extremely modest.  That was America and the wealthy class during this same period.  The difference was more profound in London and Europe.

Klassen is a Jane Austen expert and has secured a place as a noted author of the Regency period.  She researches each new book thoroughly. Some of her many sources for the current release are used as a quotation at the beginning of each chapter.

I found this to be an entertaining and enlightening book to read.  Julie Klassen presents her readers with a joy of a read.

DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary review copy of The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review.  No compensation was received for this review and all opinions expressed are my own.