Thursday, August 30, 2012

"The Haven" by Suzanne Woods Fisher: Book Review

ISBN:  978-0-8007-1988-3
$14.99 - 320 pages
About the book:  (from Revell) On a warm spring day, Sadie Lapp returns home to her quiet, unassertive life in Stoney Ridge after spending the winter in Ohio.

Gideon Smucker, an awkward schoolteacher, has been in love with Sadie since childhood and eagerly awaits her return. But does Sadie feel the same about him?

Will Stoltz, a charming and impetuous college student, has been banished for a semester and sent to babysit endangered peregrine falcons nesting at the Lapp farm. He'd rather be anywhere else . . . until he befriends Sadie.

As the hopes and ambitions of these three young people converge, life in Stoney Ridge may never be the same.

Once again, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher intrigues and delights with a story that explores the bonds of friendship, family, and true love in this captivating series.

My thoughts:  The Haven takes us on a journey into the daily lives of the Amish but it also brings to the table an outsider thrust into their midst somewhat against his wishes.  The Haven also brings to the forefront bird watching and game preservation, and a study (somewhat) in falconry.  So this is an interesting mixture with which Suzanne Woods Fisher stirs her story and shows us that a haven is not always a haven.

Our story opens with the gentle, healer Sadie Lapp traveling home after an extended stay away from the farm learning at the side of a healer.  On her journey she picks up a basket containing a hidden treasure.  This treasure turns out to be an albatross for the sweet Sadie.  Instead of finding a haven in her home and community, she finds she is virtually locked out of the fellowship a haven brings to the folks who reside therein.

The young outsider who ultimately lives in a cabin on the Lapp farm is tending and watching the falcons as they nest on behalf of the local game warden.  The nesting of the falcons is a major event because it is so rare.  So they must be protected.  Will is just the man to do that.

However, "outsider" Will begins to see a sweet beauty in the lovely Sadie.  But since Sadie is Amish and Will is not, it does pose major problems.  One of the problems though, is Gid who has been "courting" Sadie.

So we have a number problems with which our characters must deal:  the troublesome treasure in the basket, the lack of a haven for Sadie, the "outsider" so close on the scene, and Gid who is so troubled with all that is going on.

Ms. Fisher has woven an interesting and enjoyable read that has multilayers of plot and interest.

About the author:    Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, The Search, The Keeper, and The Haven, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award finalist. For more information, please visit and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

DISCLOSURE:  I received a complimentary copy of The Haven in order to review it for a vitual  blog tour.  My copy was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Revell, A Baker Publishing Group and the author.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Mormonizing of America by Stephen Mansfield

Jacketed Hardcover
How the Mormon Religion Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment, and Pop Culture (from the Worthy Publishing website)

Stephen Mansfield, the acclaimed New York Times best-selling author, has highlighted the growing popularity of Mormonism—a belief system with cultic roots—and the implications of its critical rise. Mormons are moving into the spotlight in pop culture, politics, sports, and entertainment via presidential candidates like Romney and Huntsman, media personality Glenn Beck, mega-bestselling Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, and The Book of Mormon, the hottest show on Broadway. Mormonism was once a renegade cult at war with the U.S. Army in the 1800s, but it has now emerged as not only the fastest-growing religion, but as a high-impact mainstream cultural influence.

My thoughts:  First of all, I found that this was not a deep nor controversial book written as a theological expose of Mormonism.  It is a clearly written and, I believe, thoroughly researched and documented write dealing with the "birth" of the Mormon religion here in America, what the Mormon writings and individuals actually say and speak of themselves, and the achievement of many who hold to the Religion of Mormonism as their faith in he areas politics, military, arts and entertainment, high business positions, and creation and ownership in mammoth business holdings.

Stephen Mansfield has written an easy to understand book that is of timely importance to us at this juncture in American history.  We have an accomplished politician, business man, family man, and leader in the Mormon church seeking the highest office in the land - that of President of the United States.  Therefore, it would bode well for each of us to understand somewhat about the inner workings of this man an the things he holds dear in his heart , mind, and life.  For they will affect his leadership skills and decisions if he should be chosen to lead this nation just as they have shaped his life up to this point in time.

There are roughly 2% of the population of the United States who are declared Latter Day Saints (Mormons).  Yet that 2% is now in position to wield influence in many areas of life on a day to day basis.  They achieve because their religion calls for them to achieve.  It is in their belief system. Theirs is a doctrine to be ever moving forward, progressing, and advancing in education.  They are bred to manage and to lead because if they do it on this earth, they will surely do well in the afterlife on other earths.

It has long been understood by anyone who has studied anything about the beginnings of this religious system, that it has been highly controversial and created strife and ultimate banishment.  Their belief in polygamy (though some still practice it, the majority claim it is no longer a practice).  Their belief that Africa-Americans are banned from belief - though that, too, changed. And yet, they usually produce model citizens who are productive, well-behaved, healthy, achievers.

The media is proclaiming that a "Mormon Moment" has arrived.  They (Mormons) have a candidate for President of the United States.  They (Mormons) are receiving good, popular press on individuals who are in the spotlight - including Glen Beck, newscaster.  Back in 1960 John F. Kennedy was elected as the first Roman Catholic President of the United States.  Controversial. Unheard of.  Perhaps that was a "Catholic Moment."  Assuredly, folks looked at the Catholic Church with a strong looking glass and were ever watchful of Kennedy's decision being affected by his religious beliefs and association.

Just what is included in Mansfield's book.
  1. Background  on Joseph Smith (LDS Church founder) giving his family background, what shaped his life, etc. How he found the Golden Plates and translated them.
  2. The evolution of Mormon religious tradition, the Book of Mormon, and credibility relating to Smith and the Book of Mormon.
  3. Their belief as to the origins of the American Indians.
  4. Pictures of key individuals and places.
  5. Controversy and violence between the LDS Church and Christian groups historically.
  6. A timeline following the birth and growth of Mormonism.
I appreciate the easy to read style in which Mr. Mansfield has prepared this work.  It makes it accessible reading for the lay person or for the scholar who desires a brief but thorough description of this religion that is Mormonism.  I personally take issue with all the "tenets" of the Latter Day Saints' teachings and beliefs and consider them totally in error regarding the nature of God and the person of Jesus Christ.

  Read an Excerpt:  Download PDF

About the author:   Stephen Mansfield is a writer and speaker best known for his groundbreaking books on the role of religion in history, leadership, and modern culture. He first came to international attention with The Faith of George W. Bush, the New York Times bestseller that influenced Oliver Stone’s film, W. His book The Faith of Barack Obama was another international bestseller. He has written celebrated biographies of Booker T. Washington, George Whitefield, Winston Churchill, and Abraham Lincoln, among others. Stephen speaks around the world on topics of faith, leadership, and culture. He is also the founder of two firms: The Mansfield Group ( and Chartwell Literary Group (

Disclosure:  I was provided a complimentary copy of The Mormonizing of America" by Worthy Publishing in order to facilitate my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.  Material about the author, the book, and the trailer were gleaned from the Worthy Publishing website. 

"Chestnut" by Constance W. McGeorge and illustrated by Mary White: Review & Giveaway

ISBN  9781561453214
$16.95 Peachtree Publishers
Sit down with your favorite child age 3 to 8 and just look at Chestnut the horse on the cover of "Chestnut" the book.  He looks work-weary but gentle and he has a delightful tousled white mane. Now open the book and meet "Chestnut."

Our story begins with Chestnut ready to take Mr. Decker on his delivery rounds early in the morning.  And today is a special day - the birthday of the mayor's daughter, Jenny.  Much needs to be delivered to make Jenny's day special.

But alas, Mr. Decker is work-weary, too, and he falls asleep.  No amount of whinnies or stomping of hoofs wakes Mr. Decker, so Chestnut sets out on his own to make the deliveries. Author Constance W. McGeorge weaves a delightful story that is detailed yet simple and understandable for the young child to grasp.

The lovely watercolors by Mary Whyte are soft, detailed with each two-page spread opening up the 19th century scenes of a pleasant, easy-going seacoast town. 

Published in 2004 the book has a timeless appeal to capture the attention and delight of a young audience.

GIVEAWAY:  Peachtree Publishers has graciously provided a copy "Chestnut" for one of chat With Vera's readers.  Let's make it simple for you.  Giveaway BEGINS August 28 and ENDS 9/12/12 at 8:00 p.m. EDT (just after you've put the kiddies to bed).

Mandatory entry:  Tell me if you've ever seen a horse pull a wagon.  If so, where?  Leave an entry comment with your email so you an be contacted.  (Be sure you make your email address unreadable  by the crawlers by changing it to something like myname at [yahoo]dot[com].
Extra entry: What child would you read this to?  At home? At their house? In a school?  Leave an entry comment with your email so you an be contacted.  (Be sure you make your email address unreadable  by the crawlers by changing it to something like myname at [yahoo]dot[com].
Extra entry (may do daily):   Tweet using the button at the end of the post.  Include @GG_Survey @PeachtreePub.  Leave an entry comment with your email so you an be contacted.  (Be sure you make your email address unreadable  by the crawlers by changing it to something like myname at [yahoo]dot[com].

DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy of "Chestnut" by in exchange for my honest opinion and review.  The giveaway copy is also provided by and will be shipped directly to the winner. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Balance Bar Rolls Out New mini energy bars: product review & giveaway

Bite-size Treats Pack Plenty of Taste
and Balanced Nutrition

Balance Bar®, one of America’s original nutrition/energy bar leaders, is launching mini energy bars in two popular Balance Bar flavors: Cookie Dough and Double Chocolate Brownie. They’re the perfect pick-me-up for kids and adults so everyone can feel good about enjoying them at snack time or between meals!
Each 100-calorie mini energy bar contains seven grams of protein and 23 vitamins and minerals with an excellent source of antioxidants (vitamins A, C & E). Like all Balance Bars, mini energy bars adhere to the proven 40-30-30 principle (40% of calories come from healthy carbohydrates, 30% from quality protein and 30% from dietary fat) to help stabilize blood sugar levels, satisfy hunger and provide lasting energy.

What I think about the new mini energy bars.....   First of all, they taste good!  If stuff doesn't taste good, then forget about getting the kids to eat it.  And let's face it, I like for my treats to taste good as well.   Good for you, doesn't have to taste bad to you.  Secondly, these little squares of tasty stuff, are chock full of energy and antioxidants.  Kids need energy and moms and dads need energy.  And yes, I need energy - you got it right - little old ladies of-a-certain-age really need some energy.

I shared  a few of my mini energy bars with my daughter-in-law.  She is excited about the opportunity to tuck these into her purse for that moment when her energy clock has hit end-of-day low and it is only 2:00 p.m.  She and I both like the fact that this 100 calorie gem is so packed with good-for-you ingredients. 

I packed lunches for many years as my 5 children attended school.  These would have been such a welcome treat to drop into their lunch boxes of bags.  They would definitely have enjoyed them, and I would have felt that I was packing a healthy treat for them.

I envision a forward-thinking school making these available on the lunch trays or to sell as snacks in their school lunch programs.  They are sweet enough to satisfy that hunger for something sweet and yet they are loaded with good for the kiddies.

Buy it here.... mini energy bars are certified Kosher and come in a two-flavors (Cookie Dough and Double Chocolate Brownie), 10-count box.  They are available wherever Balance Bars are sold and on . Suggested retail price is $8.99. Nutritional information and tips can be found on Or shop locally for these nifty little energy bars.  

Get a valuable coupon here.... to get a $1 Balance Bar coupon, visit and click on "Get a Valuable Coupon."  Then go shopping!
1 BOX OF 10 DELIGHTFUL MINI BARS BY BALANCE BAR.  A Chat With Vera reader has the opportunity to enter this giveaway and receive a box of 10 mini bars.  BEGINS August 27 ENDS September 12 at 8:00 p.m. EDT - open to US mailing addresses only.

Mandatory entry:  Tell me what you and/or your kids typically snack on during the day. Leave a comment & also leave your email contact info.
Extra entry:  Tweet the giveaway by clicking the Twitter button at the end & inserting @GG_Survey @Balancebar (may do daily for extra entries). Leave Tweet URL + your email info.
Extra entry:  Follow Chat With Vera via GFC, Networked blogs, or email.  Leave your follow "name" & email in the comment.
Extra entry:  Enter another of my giveaways & leave a comment telling me which one. :) Much appreciation! 
About Balance Bar:  Founded in 1992, Balance Bar, one of America’s original nutrition/energy bars, inspires consumers to lead active, well-rounded and balanced lives by providing great-tasting, healthy and convenient nutrition for lasting energy. Balance Bars come in seven unique product lines (Original, Gold, BARE, CafĂ©, nimble, CarbWell and mini energy bars) and are available in 23 flavors with all based on a 40/30/30 nutritional model (40% of calories come from healthy carbohydrates, 30% from quality protein and 30% from dietary fat). For more information, visit Follow Balance Bar for tips and nutritional information on Facebook ( and Twitter (
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a box of 10 mini bars by the Balance Bar company in exchange for my honest opinion expressed in this review.

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Trauma Plan" by Candace Calvert

We know what trauma means.  It simply means that something terribly bad and unexpected has happened in a way that brings "trauma" into a person's being of life.  But how in the world can the world "plan" associate in any way with the word trauma.  It seems simply to the contrary - unexpected vs planned .  Of course, we know that  ".... in case of trauma, you....." as in a plan of action in case of trauma.  But let's look at the wedding of the two words "trauma" and "plan" and see how they fit in other circumstances.

ISBN-13: 9781414361116
Tyndale House Publishers
About the book: Sidelined by injuries from a vicious assault, nurse chaplain Riley Hale is determined to return to ER duties. But how can she show she’s competent when the hospital won’t let her attempt even simple tasks? Determined to prove herself, Riley volunteers at a controversial urban free clinic despite her fears about the maverick doctor in charge.

Dr. Jack Travis defends his clinic like he’s commander of the Alamo. He’ll fight the community’s efforts to shut its doors, even if he must use Riley Hale’s influential family name to make it happen.

As Riley strives to regain her skills, Jack finds that she shares his compassion—and stirs his lonely heart. Riley senses that beneath Jack’s rough exterior is a man she can believe in. But when clinic protests escalate and questions surface about his past, Jack goes into battle mode, and Riley wonders if it’s dangerous to trust him with her heart.

My Thoughts:  I found this to be an interesting book riddled with excitement, medical scenarios that have a sense of truth and realism to them, good character development of folks you would want to know yourself, and a good story line that simply courses along like a rushing river.

It opens with the ER Chaplain, a "former" ER nurse, who is from a wealthy, sheltered, and coddled background thrust into working with a doctor who runs a controversial clinic for the really down-and-out in their town.  But she needs to gain experience and redevelop her skills using a hand and arm damaged in a previous accident.  She seems to literally step from one traumatic incident to another.

The "neighbors" are waging a war to rid their neighborhood of the unwanted clinic.  But Dr. Travis is willing to fight to preserve this much needed facility that meets the needs of people desperate for help.  He is former military, strong, talented, and intense.  And he begins to care deeply for our Dr. Riley, the Chaplain.

Candace Calvert has written a very believable and enjoyable book taking us into the corridors of Grace Medical as well as the not so fine rooms of the clinic. She develops characters with strengths and flaws and resolves issues in clearly defined terms.

Now back to "trauma" and "plan" and how they fit together.   Well..... you'll have to see for yourself when you read the book.  There is A PLAN and there most definitely is trauma abounding.

Medical professionals as well as those of us who don't have first hand medical knowledge will thoroughly enjoy and appreciate this fine read.

About the author:    Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who believes love, laughter and faith are the best medicines. Her Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical series offer readers a chance to "scrub in" on the exciting world of emergency medicine—along with a soul-soothing prescription for hope.

My recommendation:  A definite "must read" for the nurse or would-be nurse in your life.  Also, for anyone who enjoys a good read with authentic realism thrown in the mix.
Disclosure:  I won this book in an online giveaway and am writing my honest opinion of the story.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sweet Sally's Bakery - Yesterday's Memories Delivered Today

I was given the opportunity to try Sweet Sally's gluten free cranberry orange scones.  I have always loved scones because they are such a simple, basic sweet bread with strong historical significance for various cultures. Sweet Sally's shipped me a lovely white collector's tin packed with these gluten free scones. They were cradled with red tissue paper inside the tin.  A lovely bright red gauzy red ribbon was festively tied around the tin lending a festive or "gift" quality.

Did you know that many folks are finding that a plethora of physical problems they have encountered are actually an intolerance to gluten?  Gluten is in so much that we eat today.  Food producers are trying to create products that the gluten intolerant consumer can easily prepare or have access to.  Well, Sweet Sally's had created a variety of gluten free bakery items that will satisfy your hunger for sweet baked goods. 

Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Scones
All Natural Ingredients: Gluten free flour, sugar, unsalted butter, salt, eggs, baking powder, buttermilk, baking soda, cranberries, orange essence and magic. These are buttermilk scones and are now gluten  free! These are filled with plump cranberries and have a touch of orange essence.
But gluten free is not all that Sweet Sally's carries.  She bakes many, many delectable goodies.  Visit her website and just drool over the tempting array of goodies.  They are a kosher bakery, too.
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary tin of Cranberry Orange scones by Sweet Sally's in order to facilitate this review.  I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney (The Cate Kinkaid Filess): Book Review

About the book: (Book 1 of the new Cate Kinkaid mystery series.)
All she wanted was a paycheck. What she got was a murder.   Cate Kinkaid's life is . . . well, frankly it's floundering. Her social life, her career, her haircut--they're all a mess. Unemployed, she jumps at the chance to work for her PI uncle, even though she has no experience and no instincts. After all, she is just dabbling in the world of private investigating until she can find a "real" job.

All she has to do for her first assignment is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? But when she reaches the dark Victorian house, she runs into an hungry horde of gray-haired mystery readers and a dead body. This routine PI job is turning out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?
My thoughts:  I found Dying to Read to be an entertaining, light cozy mystery read.  It is full of absurd situations and conversations, but that makes it all the more charming and entertaining.  It is replete with little old ladies who gossip behind each others backs but who are in a mystery reading group.  But read is not all they do together.  It seems there is a bit of risk taking involving money and/or scams taking place.

Out-of-work Cate is simply suppose to locate a "missing" person for her temporarily disabled uncle who is a private investigator.  Cate stumbles head over heels into a most convoluted mystery situation involving murder, bribery, lying, cheating, and down-right danger.

During her investigations into the missing person, who just happens to look like a twin sister to Cate, she meets her knight in shining armour who is strong, handsome, protective, and caring.  Now this sounds interesting, but there is an old fiance who wants to creep in, too.  But this is a mystery and not a real romance, yet it never hurts to have a bit of sweet newly blooming romance on the fringes.

A fun read that will help you while away some time when you just want a little bit of relaxing.

About the author:  Lorena McCourtney is the award-winning author of dozens of novels, including Invisible (which won the Daphne du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America), In Plain Sight, On the Run, and Stranded. She resides in Oregon.

“Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”  ISBN:  978-0-8007-2158-9  $14.99, 320 pages.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Dying to Read by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing in order to render my honest opinion and review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Beneath the Slashings by Michelle Isenhoff: Book Review

Beneath the Slashings is the last book in the Divided Decade Trilogy, set in the Civil War. But the trilogy is a series of stand-alone novels, so you need not read the first two. Here’s a synopsis of Beneath the Slashings:

After four uncertain years of war, twelve-year-old Grace Nickerson is desperate to return to a sense of normalcy. But soon after her father returns, he sells the farm and drags the family to a lumber camp in Michigan’s northern wilderness.

Living among the rough loggers is frightening enough, but then a series of accidents prove intentional. Who is sabotaging the camp, and why? Will the winter in the woods bring the healing Grace’s family needs? Or will it drive a wedge between Grace and her father? 

My thoughts:  Beneath the Slashings deals with a family in crisis resulting from the aftermath of the Civil War.  It opens in 1865.  Pa is returning from the war and plans to move his family, Grace and Sam, to the northern woods into a desolate logging camp.  The practice of logging at that period was one of slashing all the trees and leaving the land destroyed.  However, one thought was that it would be partially cleared for the onslaught of homesteaders headed that way.

Although Ms. Isenhoff writes fiction for the entertainment of middle school students, it is quite evident to the reader that a major intent is to also present lessons that can be learned from history, culture, and life in general.  Ms. Isenhoff writes skillfully using beautiful word pictures that capture the attention of the young reader (and any adults who happen to pick up her books as well).  The interaction of the children in the story with each other and with those around them will be that which a middle school student will not find stilted and out of age character. They will totally relate to the action.

Now what is to be learned from Beneath the Slashings?
  1. Logging Camps:  A detailed picture is given of life in a logging camp during 1865.  It was rough and really not the place for a young girl. Baths were scarce but food was plentiful.  Work was hard and long but there was a bit of fun thrown in.  Terms used for activities involved in the work of felling trees and getting them out of the woods are woven right in conversations.
  2. Racial:  This story takes place immediately following the Civil War and the issue of freed slaves and their relationships and working with non-blacks was not very well liked by some even in the north woods at that time.  As head of the logging camp, "Pa," dealt with the issue sternly but with grace.
  3. Indian Life:  Grace meets an old Indian woman who teaches Grace kindness, understanding, forgiveness, anger control, and the old ways of the Indian.  Ms. Isenhoff writes an elegant word pictures and describing each action from healing arts to leather work in detail yet not boringly.
As with the other books written by Michelle Isenhoff, I can highly recommend Beneath the Slashings.

Other books by Michelle Isenhoff reviewed here on Chat With Vera are:  Candle Star (see my review by clicking here)--Civil War 1858, was book one in the Divided Decade triology.  Broken Ladders (Book 2 in the Divided Decade), and The Color of Freedom. (Revolutionary War).

The author Michelle Isenhoff says.... So what do I write? Three words: ADVENTURE - I won't read a story that doesn't transport me to a new, exciting world. I won't write one, either. INNOCENCE - My target audiences range from 9 to 15. Kids. I won't market profanity or controversy. And SUBSTANCE - I prefer stories with some depth to them.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Beneath the Slashings in order to facilitate a review.  I was not obligated to give a positive account.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"About Birds: A Guide for Children" by Cathryn Sill, Illustrated by John Sill: Book Review & Giveaway

ISBN:  978-1-56145-028-2 - Ages 3-8
Hardcover $16.99, 40 pages
Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta
Lovely picture books open the eyes, then the heart, and then the mind of the young child.  This series, "A Guide for Children," takes the child up close to creatures and brings in words and illustrations, facts and knowledge while helping the child to gain an appreciation of the creature. Today we are looking at "About Birds - A Guide for Children."

As you begin the journey learning about birds, you open the page and there on the left page is a simple statement..... "Birds have feathers,"  and on the right page is a beautiful picture of the brilliant cardinal in winter.  The specific bird is identified in a corner of the text page.  Remember, I said they are learning in this journey... they have learned that birds have feathers and that the bird pictured is the Northern Cardinal.  This continues through the book instructing in simple, concise statements for the young child.

At the end of the book is an "Afterword" with each page/illustration presented with a short but broader statement about that particular bird or illustration.  I highly recommend these books as excellent for the home library, the school library, or for a gift from grandma.

It is a pleasure to present North Carolina Cathryn Sill, author and John Sill, artist.  North Carolina is a diverse state filled with a vast quantity and variety of wildlife.  

Cathryn Sill, a graduate of Western Carolina University, was an elementary school teacher for thirty years. She lives in North Carolina.

Author Photo
John Sill holds a BS in wildlife biology from North Carolina State University. Combining his knowledge of wildlife and artistic skill, John has achieved an impressive reputation as a wildlife artist and received several awards. He lives in North Carolina.  

GIVEAWAY:  Peachtree Publishers is offering a copy of About Birds to one of Chat With Vera's readers. Begins August 16 ENDS September 6 at  Noon EDT- USA only.  Email required for contacting winner (edit it as "myname at yahoo [dot][com]" )
  1. Mandatory entry:  Visit Peachtree Publishers website & find "About Birds: A Guide for Children" and find 2 other titles in the Guide for Children series that appeals to you.  Leave a comment on here telling me which two titles. Leave your email so I can contact you if you are the winner.
  2. Extra entry/s:  May be done DAILYTweet this review.  Use the Tweet button at the end of the post to Tweet & include the hashtags @GG_Survey @PeachtreePub #Giveaway. Leave a separate comment here for each daily Tweet which includes the Twitter URL for the Tweet (your email, too, please).
  3. Extra entry/s:  Share this review link in a Facebook post & visit  saying you're from Chat With VeraEach comment counts as an entry so leave a separate comment here which includes the Facebook URL for the post (your email, too, please).
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy of About Birds by Peachtree Publishers in exchange for my honest review and I was under no obligation to render a positive review.  The giveaway copy will be provided to one of Chat With Vera's readers by Peachtree Publishers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Proof" by Jordyn Redwood (medical thriller)- Book Review

ISBN: 978-0-8254-8867-2
Kregel Publications - $14.99
Author, Jordyn Redwood writes from the standpoint and first-hand knowledge of a long-time experienced emergency room nurse.  In her first novel, Proof, she opens with a fast paced scene in the ER with Dr. Lilly Reeves handling a recent rape case.  She confronts the on hand detective in the ER about the "serial" rapist at large.  Little did Dr. Reeves know that she would be the  next victim.

The character of Dr. Reeves is strong as is typical of a woman doctor.  She is strong in the medical profession and in her ability to diagnose and investigate medically the cases brought to her.  She is not so strong emotionally because she is has a complex history which creates in her a complex individual.

Dr. Lilly realizes that she know facts that will help identify the assailant and an accusation is made.  DNA Tests are run but the accused is freed because the results say he is not the one.  However, she knows identifying characteristics that make her realize that something is askew about the test results.  The medical twists and turns of this maze will confound even the experts.

She has friends in the ER with whom she works that are supportive and caring.  They are also the ones who believe her - up to a point - as she tries to find proof of her assailant before he finds and eliminates her.  As the story unfolds and her life seems to completely unravel, we find a soft romance beginning to bloom and it is really a treat to see this need filled in her life.

This is a fast paced story that is replete with medical terminology that will sit well with those "in the know" an will be a strong selling point for authenticity for this the first in Jordyn Redwood's Bloodline Triology. 

This book would be categorized as a medical/criminal thriller.  It is indeed that. I look forward to the next book from Jordyn Redwood in the Bloodline Triology.  It is sure to be another block buster.

GIVEAWAY:  Jordyn Redwood is offering a copy of Proof  to one of Chat With Vera's readers. Begins August 14 ENDS September 5 at  Noon EDT- USA only.  Email required for contacting winner (edit it as "myname at yahoo [dot][com]" )
  1. Mandatory entry:  Visit Jordyn Redwood's website at Redwood's Medical Edge & read one of her or her guest's posts describing a medical issue.  Leave a comment on THAT post at Medical Edge then return here and leave a comment telling me which Medical Edge post you read and left a comment on. Leave your email so I can contact you if you are the winner.
  2. Extra entry/s:  May be done DAILYTweet this review.  Use the Tweet button at the end of the post to Tweet & include the hashtags @GG_Survey @JordynRedwood #Giveaway. Leave a separate comment here for each daily Tweet which includes the Twitter URL for the Tweet (your email, too, please).
  3. Extra entry/s:  Share this review link in a Facebook post & visit!/jordyn.redwood & say your're from Chat With Vera.  Each comment counts as an entry so leave a separate comment here which includes the Facebook URL for the post (your email, too, please).

I received my copy of Proof as a prize from an online drawing.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

I encourage my readers to visit Jordyn Redwood's website at Redwood's Medical Edge

Monday, August 13, 2012

"My Pop-Up Bible Stories" by Juliet David & Illustrated by Daniel Haworth

By now, most of my readers realize that I really love to get my hands on good children's books.  We as adults have a tremendous responsibility to implant in their innocent minds God's truth and a love for His Word and His world.  We are also responsible to be sure that they learn about good things, beautiful things, lovely things and are taught gentleness, kindness, and generosity.

Well, My Pop-Up Bible Stories certainly won't do all of these things because it takes more than one piece to complete the puzzle of learning.  But this is a beautiful piece; and it will certainly be considered a border piece because in its lovely, gentle way, it presents part of the binding that is the stuff of life.  It presents Bible stories to the young age 3 to 5 child in a way they can understand and in an ingenious method - pop-up pictures - that will captivate them.

Five stories from the Old and New Testaments include: Daniel, Baby Moses, Lost Sheep, Jairus's Daughter, and Stilling the Storm.  Baby Moses gently floats, Jairus's daughter is raised, and Jesus stills the storm.  Pop-up paper art created by Linda Birkinshaw brings to life the illustrations by Daniel Haworth.  The stories beautifully told by Juliet David mesh wonderfully with the art.  Children will be enthralled by this book and you and your child will surely cherish it.  Their little hands will clutch it tightly to their heart because they love it.  And you will be thankful it is in your home for them to learn from and to grasp a beginning knowledge of God's Word.

DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy for the purpose of rendering my honest review by Kregel Publishing on behalf of Candle Books (imprint of Lion Hudson).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

"Michael at the Invasion of France 1943 (Boys of Wartime)" by Laurie Calkhoven: Book Review

ISBN:  978-0-8037-3724-2
Hitler's Nazis army is swarming over France and young Michael, still a child on the cusp of becoming a teen, feels very inadequate since his father was fighting for France and has since safely landed in England and Michael's Brother is in a German prisoner of war camp.  Little does he know the tremendous role history will allow him to play in saving lives and foiling the plans and plots of the Gestapo.

Somehow he stumbles into the French Resistance movement where teens, women, and men (who can) are involved aiding in the escape of Jews and downed Allied pilots.  Each day is filled with peril for even the most innocent in their midst. 

Michael's friends in the Durand family are his entry into the French Resistance, and yet he sees them captured by the Gestapo from the information one of his childhood friends who is a German collaborator provided the Germans. 

While this is a novel about a child during World War II, it is packed with historical reality with war and resistance movement material telling what life was really like during that time.  It becomes a living history that brings vivid understanding to a child or adult.  Author Laurie Calkhoven has provided wonderful historical supplemental notes at the end.  Plus a history of the role of children in the French resistance.  Some facts about the Historical Characters who are mentioned in the book are also provided in the notes.  I always love it when a list of unfamiliar words is given defining them for the understanding of readers.  History teachers will love this book as a resource since it includes a time line for the war period and a Further Reading list of books that can be used for reference.

I highly recommend this book as an exciting read for children 8 to 14 and recommend that every school and library stock their shelves with copies of each of Laurie Calkhoven's books. 

Other Boys of Wartime books by Laurie Calkhoven I have reviewed:    
Daniel at the Siege of Boston 1776
Will at the Battle of Gettysburg 1863
DISCLOSURE:  The author, Laurie Calkhoven provided a complimentary copy of Michael at the Invasion of France 1943"  so that I could render my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own and I was not requested to provide a positive review. 

"In the Sea" by David Elliott & Illustrated by Holly Meade: Review & Giveaway WINNER CHOSEN

ISBN:  9780763644987 Hardcover
Illustrated/poetry - Ages 3-5 years
About the book:  The briny deep is home to an enormous variety of fascinating creatures, from the dainty sea horse to the fearsome shark, from the spiny sea urchin to the majestic blue whale. In striking woodcut illustrations, diverse creatures glide through blue and green waters, while succinct, witty poetry examines their behavior and interactions. In this companion volume to On the Farm and In the Wild, David Elliott and Holly Meade explore the depths of the ocean in a collection of poems sure to thrill budding oceanographers and landlubbers alike.
A New York Times best-selling author and a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator explore life in the ocean with clever poems and bold, expressive woodcuts.

My thoughts:  I am sure you are all beginning to realize that I thoroughly enjoy and love lovely children's books.  When they are in rhyme, it simply "lights my fire."  That said, let's look at bit at what the author and illustrator are bringing to us today.  I see pictures with bold, black definitive lines yet the art is fluid.  The colors reminiscent of the sea in all the watery colors.  Now let's look a bit at some of the rhymes that tell us about life under the sea.

There are a variety of types of poems in the book.
The Puffer Fish
A trickster.
A clown.
A magician.
A buffoon.
One minute
she's a fish;
the next,
she's a balloon.

Or how about this lovely "The Sea Horse" poem! Picture, poem, and a fact.  Learning with enjoyment.  That is what a good children's books is all about.
 Author:   David Elliott is the author of many books for young readers, including On the Farm and In the Wild, the companion books to In the Sea. He is also the author of the New York Times best-selling picture book And Here's To You!, illustrated by Randy Cecil. David Elliott lives in New Hampshire. illustrator’s comments:
Illustrator:  Holly Meade has illustrated many picture books, including On the Farm and In the Wild, as well as the Caldecott Honor-winning Hush! A Thai Lullaby and its follow-up, Peek! A Thai Hide-and-Seek, both written by Minfong Ho. Holly Meade lives in Maine.
Candlewick Press will mail 1 of Chat With Vera's readers their very own copy of  IN THE SEA. Open USA onlyEasy entries:  Begins August 12 and ENDS September  2 at 12:00 Noon EDT.
  • Mandatory Entry: Tell me what child or children you would enjoy reading this book with.  Leave a comment with your email contact information.
  • Extra entry:  Tweet this post using the Tweet button at the end of the post and include the following: @Candlewick #GIVEAWAY.  Leave a comment with the Tweet link and your email contact information.  You may do this DAILY for more entries.
  • Extra entry:  "Follow" Chat With Vera via at least one of the options in right sidebar: networked blogs, GFC, or email subscriber.  Leave a comment with email saying which you have done.  (Already follow? Just say so with your name)
  • Extra entry:  Share this post on other social media and back link to this post.  Leave your social media share URL or link information in a comment.  Leave your email contact information, too.
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy of "In the Sea" by Candlewick Press so I could give my honest opinion in this review.  The giveaway copy that one of Chat With Vera's readers will win will be provided by Candlewick Press. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

"The Irish Healer" by Nancy Herriman: Book Review & GIVEAWAY ENDED

Hopefully, you have already read guest blogger, Nancy Herriman's "The Journey" in my other "Irish Healer" post.  If you haven't, I encourage you to do so. 

About the book:  In 1832, Rachel Dunne is an Irish healer accused of the death of a child under her care. Acquitted but shunned, she flees to England searching for a new life. She vows to never sit at another bedside again...or trust in a God who abandoned her when she needed Him most.

London physician James Edmunds is wearied by his failures, especially his inability to save his wife, who died from childbed fever. He has decided to abandon his practice and lose himself in the running of his family’s small country estate. Until a red-haired Irish servant girl with a deep and mysterious strength makes him think about living again. 

My thoughts:  This story is set in 1830s London and involves the gentry class - professional Dr. James Edmunds, his widowed sister-in-law, and others along with the servant class.  We see the main character, an Irish young lady who was a "healer" back in poverty stricken Ireland.  The lovely Rachel Dunne has come from Ireland to London with the financial and emotional support of her cousin, Clarice - another member of the gentry.

Rachel must leave Ireland because shame and ruination has been brought on her family because one of the sick that she was nursing dies and Rachel has been accused of murder in the situation.  Though a jury acquitted her of wrong doing, the rumors persist.  She and her mother have lost their means of livelihood.  Hence the move Rachel makes to London to seek employment.

Temporary work arrangements have been for Rachel with Dr. Edmunds through the good graces and recommendation of her cousin, Clarice.  Rachel is not accepted readily amongst the servants but graciously holds on to her position by working hard and being kind to others.

The story moves along revealing the definite class distinction and bias of London in the 1830s.  Nancy Herriman portrays these distinctions vividly through the actions and conversations of each of the characters.  Though the household of Dr. Edmunds is busy with preparations for a move to the country, the city of London is plagued with a break out of cholera. 

The scenes and conversations of the sick, the sick room, the odors, the sights are quite descriptive and your senses will feel the vivid descriptions very thoroughly.  The filthy streets and back alleys of London are also vividly portrayed which helps to understand the rapid spread of disease during the time.  Dr. Edmunds and his other physician friends practice medicine typical of that period with sweats, leeches, purges.  However, Dr. Edmunds tends toward a more gentle practice.  Rachel tries to keep her skills as a healer hidden because she fears her past being revealed and the consequences of such a revelation, nonetheless, her skills are needed from time to time and her secret does come out.

This is a gently told story of individuals with personal struggles of failure and fear of past and present.  It is a story of disappointment and a story of love and the need to be loved.  It is also a story of a bleak time in London's history when disease was rampant, filth and poverty abounded, and health care so inadequate.  It is a story of triumph and of faith.  It is a gently told story of rediscovering one's lost faith in God.
GIVEAWAY:  Nancy Herriman is offering a copy to one of Chat With Vera's readers. Begins August 10 ENDS August 24 Noon EDT- USA only.  Email required for contacting winner (edit it as "myname at yahoo [dot][com]" )
  1. Mandatory entry:  Read The Journey, guest blog article by Nancy Herriman at  Return here and leave a comment telling me how many books Nancy wrote before The Irish Healer was accepted and published. Leave your email so I can contact you if you are the winner.
  2. Extra entry/s:  May be done DAILYTweet the review and/or The Journey blog post.  Each Tweet is a separate entry.  So you CAN do 2 tweets a day. 1 for The  Journey and 1 for the giveaway/review.  Separate comments must be left--leave the entry comments in the comments of this review post only. Use the Tweet button at the end of the post to Tweet & include the hashtags @Nancy_Herriman and #Giveaway. Each comment counts as an entry so leave a separate comment here for each which includes the Twitter URL for the Tweet (your email, too, please).
  3.  Extra entry/s:  Share both Nancy's "The Journey" link and this review link in separate Facebook posts.  Each comment counts as an entry so leave a separate comment here for each which includes the Facebook URL for the post (your email, too, please).
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy of The Irish Healer by author, Nancy Herriman, in exchange for my honest review.

THE JOURNEY by Guest Blogger Nancy Herriman, Author of "Irish Healer" (GIVEAWAY)

When I approached Nancy Herriman about the possibility that she would be a guest blogger here on Chat With Vera, it was with brazen cockiness, fear, and trepidation.  (I know that combination doesn't really make sense, but it explains exactly how I felt about asking her.)  So it was with rejoicing I received her answer saying, "Yes!"  So let's not waste more words from Vera but get on with what Nancy has to say.

The Journey….

I have a confession to make about writing--as often as I love it, I loathe it, too. I know this comes as a surprise to my non-writer friends, who imagine all authors happily typing away, a box of bonbons at one elbow, a cup of their favorite beverage (mine would be tea) at the other, the words flying off their fingertips, a book achieving completion in a matter of short months. I also know the above statement is not at all a surprise to my writer friends. They know that the process is a roller-coaster journey of giddying ups and rather nauseating downs, moments where you can’t type fast enough for the voices speaking in your head and other moments (oh, these happen too often) where the blank page stares back or the words get written and erased and written again and erased and….you get the point.

Author's favorite Bible verse:
"I can do everything through him
who gives me strength." Phil 4:13
I began my first effort at writing a novel when my children were toddlers, fitting a few sentences in during nap-time or while they were watching videos on TV. Not the most productive years, but it began a habit of writing that has served me well. A book cannot take form if the words don’t go onto the page, and even if it’s only a few hundred words a day, eventually they will become chapters and those chapters, an entire novel. That first book, like so many first books, has long been consigned to the dark, dim recesses of my desk where no one can find it (maybe not even me). The second book joined it there, as well, speedily sent to its demise after an agent asked me what made it so special and I had to concur--not much. By my third (you can see I was not exactly an overnight success), I was winning contests and attracting the attention of agents. I was convinced I was just weeks from publication! I would receive multiple offers and endless accolades! My career was launched!

Alas, when the book that had shown such promise didn’t sell, I had to regroup. It was very tempting to give up, but there was that writing habit I couldn’t shake. Just one more book, I told myself. Just one more attempt at getting published and then I’d stop.

And then I began work on The Irish Healer at the encouragement of a dear friend and critique partner who’s been with me since that first book. It helped that when I pitched the idea to an editor, she was excited by the premise. I knew I was on to something good, something meaningful, but that recognition did not equate to an easy time of writing. More than once, in distress over what was transpiring on the page, the manuscript went into the drawer of that desk where all deceased book ideas and opening chapters of incomplete projects are consigned. I worked on a completely different book for a long period of months, trying to forget about The Irish Healer, but it kept calling me back. Boy, am I grateful. 
Now Vera is going to speak.....  Well folks, I don't know about you, but I am so grateful that Nancy decided to continue plugging away at the keyboard, kept her chin and her hopes up, and gave us The Irish HealerNancy, we are going to be looking for more from you in the coming months and years. Thank you for sharing The Journey with us.
A blurb about The Irish Healer:  Acquitted of murdering a child under her care, Irish healer Rachel Dunne flees the ensuing scandal and vows to never sit at another sickbed. She no longer trusts in her abilities—or God’s mercy. When a cholera epidemic sweeps through London, though, she is forced to nurse the dying daughter of the enigmatic physician she has come to love. James Edmunds, wearied by the deaths of too many patients, has his own doubts about God’s grace. Together, they will have to face their darkest fears...and learn what it means to have real faith.

Author Bio:  Nancy Herriman abandoned a career in Engineering to chase around two small children and take up the pen. She hasn’t looked back. When she is not writing, or gabbing over lattes about writing, she is either watching history shows on cable TV or singing. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and sons, and wishes there were more hours in the day. You can learn more at her website,, where you will also find a link to the opening chapter of The Irish Healer and a book trailer.

If you participate in social media, please join Nancy on Facebook at or on Twitter (@Nancy_Herriman).

Now CLICK HERE to read Chat With Vera's review and see the details of the GIVEAWAY that Nancy is offering Chat With Vera readers!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"HAILEE" book 3 in the Montana Skies series by Penny Zeller: Book Review & Giveaway -WINNER CHOSEN

Here is a really cute picture of author, Penny Zeller, caught signing books.  Penny is a delightful individual that loves to write, loves the Lord, and loves to share.  Today we're going to share a bit about another of her books in the Montana Skies series, Hailee.  After you read a bit about the book and then my thoughts, you can enter the giveaway of a copy of the book Penny has so graciously provided.

Penny Zeller is a dedicated author to the genre of Christian fiction.  She brings strong characters to the scene of her stories and a very strong message of God's love and forgiveness and His grace.

Hailee is the third book in the Montana Skies series.  In books one and two we met sisters McKenzie and Kaydee.  These two had beautiful life stories  filled with the fallen nature of man, the Grace of God, and the forgiveness one can find in each other but mostly in and through God Himself. Hailee is not the third "sister," but she is a lovely young lady who has been redeemed from the ills of society and the sin of her nature and her deeds by the kindness of the teachers she encounters and by the Grace of God.

When Hailee reaches adulthood, she embraces the opportunity to travel to Montana as a teacher in the small community of Pine Haven (home of McKenzie and Kaydee).  She is met by the dashing pastor of the local church, Nate Adams.  Nate's story is another in the Grace and Direction of God in the life of an individual. 

Penny Zeller has truly written a sweet, romantic, tender story that you would not be afraid to place in the hands of your best friend, your tender young lady, or the gentle grandmotherly lady in your community.

Which of the three books in the Montana Skies series is my favorite?  That I can not tell, because they are all good, sweet, and well written and I enjoyed each of them.

Penny loves to hear from her readers at her website, and on Facebook at
GIVEAWAY:  Penny is offering one of Chat With Vera's readers the opportunity to win a copy of  Hailee  Book 3 in her Montana Skies Historical Romance Series.  You can see my review of McKenzie by clicking here.  Rules for the GIVEAWAY:  Begins August 9 ENDS August 30 @ 8:00 p.m. EDT. Open in USA only.
  1. Mandatory entry:  Leave a comment (and do play nice) and tell us if you've ever read a Penny Zeller book and if so, which one.  We'll need your email address, too, and your First name.
  2. Extra entry:  Tweet this giveaway & review and using the hashtags @GG_Survey @PennyZeller #Giveaway.  Use that little Twitter button at the end of the post. We'll need the Tweet URL & your email address, too.  (May do this once daily for extra entries.)
  3. Extra entry:  Share this on some form of social media and leave the link in a comment.  Don't forget that email address. (Each "share" can be a separate entry.)
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a copy of Hailee by the author Penny Zeller in exchange for my honest review.  Opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"Tidewater Inn (A Hope Beach Novel)" by Colleen Coble: Book Review & Getaway Weekend Contest Facebook Party

ISBN: 9781595547811

About the book: 
Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.

Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

My thoughts: 
Although Colleen Coble is an established writer with an assortment of books to her credit, Tidewater Inn is the first book by her that I recall reading.  Friends, I don't think it will be the last one, though.  When given the opportunity to review Tidewater Inn, I thought, "Now this should be interesting to see how she treats my beloved North Carolina shore line and its people."  You see, I'm a North Carolina native and was raised in Wilmington which is the southernmost tip of the state whereas the Outer Banks is the upper shoreline of our ragged coastline.  So I wasn't reading it as one who has never seen the ocean roil or the wind guest.  Nor seen the gulls at play along the sand dunes and foaming waters of the Atlantic.  No, I'd played in that surf and swam in the calm inland waters as well as the mighty ocean swells. So what did I find that Ms. Coble had to say and how she positioned her characters?

I had trouble "finding" Hope Island, but we do give writers a bit of license with some details.  I could "see" the island because there is much off the coast of North Carolina in the way of broken shore lines and bits and pieces of land.  Her description of the ocean and the troubles of a category 1 hurricane hitting at high tide are "right on." 

But the story is not just about the shores of North Carolina, it is a story of people.  Of danger.  Of greed.  Of kindness and of anger.  Of discovery and of secrets.  Of faith and reconciliation.  It is a gentle love story.  It is a story of triumph over evil and deception.

Our main characters are Libby and Alex.  Libby is a historical architect looking at property on Hope Island with her business partner Nicole.  Alex is a Hope island resident fisherman and Coast Guard officer. 

The story opens with Libby preparing for her trip to Hope Island when her world is shattered as her business partner and friend, Nicole is kidnapped in view of a cam camera and Libby just happens to see it via her computer.  From that point on, the story runs.  So hold your breath, sit tight, and get ready for a twisting, turning, tantalizing story that will keep you guessing who, what, and when until the very end.

About the author:    Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.
Visit her website at Twitter @colleencoble.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Tidewater Inn by Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishers and the author, Colleen Coble in exchange for a review expressing my honest opinion.  All opinions expressed are my own and no requirement for a positive review was required.