Friday, March 29, 2013

"A Day At The Lake" by Stephanie Wallingford & Dawn Rynders, Illustrated by Erica Pelton Villnave

About the book:  Flippity flop and splash your way through this colorful trip to the lake. Jump in with your senses and play with rhymes as you experience the waves, the boats, and the many animals. This cheery book follows three children as they enjoy the simple pleasures and rare glimpses that nature offers us around the lake. A Day at the Lake is told using all five senses, and teaches children vowels and sound effects.

My thoughts: From the front cover, on each page, and ending with the back cover this cheerful, bright, engaging books is delightful.  I can almost feel the children's joy and excitement in the pictures detailing their fun and activities and discoveries when they spend A Day At The Lake.

It is a shame that this book is not printed in a hardcover version so that it will better endure the repeated reading, page turning, hugging (yes books are hugged by our little ones) that it will surely be experiencing.  But since it is not, we'll just enjoy it anyway!

On the two-page spreads, there is a short two liner that says what that page/picture is about.  Then it is followed by some "way out" words that will tickle your tongue, your heart, and make your kiddies giggle.
Hear the soft waves hit the boat like a drum.
Lappity rap, Sloshily slap
In the picture for this page, the three children (so young, so innocent, so pure) and their doggie are peering over the edge of the boat as the little waves "Sloshily slap."

If you and your little ones go to the lake or beach, you'll want to watch for this book or perhaps order it online.  It will be a joy.
And if you want to read more about A Day at the Lake, what others are saying, author questions/answers, well, check it out HERE!.....
GIVEAWAY: Scarlett press is graciously providing a giveaway copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to vie for. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Begins March 29 and ENDS April 15 at 12:01 a.m. EDT and is open to USA mainland residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary copy of A Day At The Lake" by Scarletta Kids an Imprint of Scarletta in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"A Sound Among the Trees" by Susan Meissner

About the book: As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

Review: This is the second book I have read by this author and I enjoyed this particular book much better than the first one I read ("The Girl in the Glass"). Set in modern day, "A Sound Among the Trees" is a story about one family's history and how many believe the house, "Holly Oak," is haunted by its ancestor, Susannah Page who was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North and a traitor. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn't believe that Susannah's ghost haunts the mansion.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and moves into Holly Oak with her new husband Carson and his two children (Hudson & Brette), she soon begins to believe that there may just be some truth to the story that the house is haunted. Carson's former wife Sara was Adelaide's granddaughter and she passed away while living at Holly Oak. It seems that misfortune has fallen to several of the women who have lived at Holly Oak and Marielle begins to wonder if she might be in for the same fate.

"A Sound Among the Trees" is well written and easily draws you into the characters. I particularly enjoyed the section of the book that dealt primarily with Susannah Page and her life during the Civil War. The author painted a very real picture of how a young woman may have felt during this period of history and the suffering many endured.

I'm most glad that I gave this author a second chance and read "A Sound Among the Trees." (rev. P.Howard)
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of A Sound Among the Trees was provided by the publisher Waterbrook Multnomah through its blogger review program Blogging For Books in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"Westley, the BIG Truck" by James McEwen (review)

All little boys love trucks and the bigger the better.  And books about trucks rank high on the list of favorites for those same little boys.  I remember the big Tonka trucks and "matchbox" little trucks and the in-between "dime store" trucks my boys had when they were little.  Then there were the trucks my grandsons had, too.  Trucks! Big, little, "Varoom!"ta types of trucks.

Westley, the BIG Truck is a character building truck book about a big truck that has a big problem.  You see, he gets stuck and can't go.  He gets made fun of by the other trucks, cars, buses, and snooty foreign cars.  Then he finds his way with the  master mechanic of trucks. The lesson taught in the book of how words can injure and inflict hurt to another is good.

This is a book that also that teaches a moral lesson and also the creation in an allegorical way that a young boy can grasp.  Mom and Dad, you will want to add this cute book to your library for that sweet boy of yours. It will become a favorite - just like he has his favorite "Varoom!" truck.

On another note, I love the way the author uses words to convey fun images of stores and shops: the Curl Up and dye beauty salon, the Eat Em & Weep Cafe, and the Tanks-a-Lot gas stations.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Westley, the BIG Truck from Master Books a Division of New Leaf Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Presenting NEW SOFT SCRUB ADVANCE SURFACE - a better way to clean premium surfaces (Review & Giveaway)

As a Purex Insider, I have been afforded the opportunity to try a number of items under the Henkel umbrella of products. Right now I have current reviews and product giveaways for Dial Coconut Water body wash and for Purex plus Softener with Crystals Fragrance laundry detergent.  And now they have sent me a bottle of Soft Scrub Advanced Surface cleaner.

I have used several Soft Scrub products to clean around the house, and found them all top quality and effective cleaners.  The Soft Scrub Advanced surface is tough on stains and gentle on delicate surfaces.  And it is a gel! That means no chalky residue.

Frankly, I don't know how in the world you can simply squirt a dab onto a surface, wipe it down with paper towel or sponge, and you're finished! No rinsing.  No elbow grease to shine. Well, I tried it and did it "my way."  I squirted a dab in each of the kitchen sinks.  Rubbed it around the bottom, sides, and in the drain rim.  Then I rinsed it.  After all, I thought, "I'm not letting that stuff etch my sink!"  Well, the stainless steel sparkled and was so nice and shiny. We have well water and it has the tendency to leave a residue of build up.  But this seemed to remove most but the thickest of spots.

So next time I cleaned, I rinsed the remains of the meal prep out of the sink, squirted a dab of Soft Scrub Advance Surface into the sink, rub-a-dub-dubbed it around and - WOW! So nice and shiny. 

I also used it on my glass range top.  I have a few little spots where spills have effectively (and woefully) cooked themselves onto the surface.  I saw some of them lessened after using the Advanced Surface. I am looking forward to possibly getting them all off with another or so rub-down with Advance Surface.

I haven't tried this on my granite counter tops.  Honestly, we don't dirty them much.  But I intend to try other surfaces in the future with Soft Scrub Advanced Surface.

Oh, by-the-way, several days after the sink rub-a-dub-dub, it still has a nice shine.  Now I like that!

GIVEAWAY: Now you have the opportunity to try it,too.  I have two free product coupons to share with Chat With Vera readers, and we'll be choosing two winners using the Rafflecopter entry form below. ENDS April 8 at 12:01 a.m. EDT.  Open only in mainland USA addresses.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a free product and coupons to distribute for the giveaway in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to provide favorable comments. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

"Janet's Planet: Exploring Microgravity" DVD (Review & Giveaway)

I remember the day in 1969 when man first walked on the Moon. I remember with pride, too, that it was America that put a man there first. I recall with awe the achievement this was and the eyes glued to the television, magazines, and newspapers trying to garner some insight some understanding of just what this was and what it meant to us.  I recall, too, my young children simply enthralled even though they couldn't comprehend it or the immensity of it.  The Space Program became household words.  Schools ramped up their science programs even more than before.  The new frontier had just been breeched and America wanted to stay first in line.

But the knowledge that keeps America first in line starts with that first instruction in science and the scientific study of Earth, of gravity, and of what makes things do what they do.  The instruction must come to the child in a comprehensible and engaging manner.  That leads us to Janet's Planet and the DVD we're going to talk about today.

From Janet Ivey:  For the past decade, science education has been my passion and America’s children have been my inspiration.  It is incredible to see how excited children can become about the world around them when the information is presented in an accessible and FUN way. That is the mission of Janet’s Planet, and I look forward to continuing to support better science education in the years to come.

Review:  The DVD begins with a splash of color and sound that immediately grabs the child's attention. This is a fast paced, fact packed DVD that explores gravity and micro-gravity.  It gives definitions of gravity that are precise and understandable.  If not understood by the child on first mention, no worry.  Janet Ivey repeats and reiterates.  This is good instruction. This is lively. This is interesting. And this is fun.

I can see the 5 to 7 year old being entertained and gleaning some information from watching. I can also see that it would be very beneficial through the middle grades.  Why, even adults can learn from this.  The child will learn that science is not something new but it has been around for centuries and that great minds have had part in the evolving understanding of the facts of gravity.

The DVD ends with a flight aboard an airplane that simulates "0" gravity (or micro-gravity).  This is fun to watch and the kids will enjoy.  I recommend this DVD for homeschools, regular classroom use, and individuals who simply want to learn more.  Check out the links below for more information.

GIVEAWAY: Enter to win this DVD by using the Rafflecopter form below. Open to USA mainland addresses only. Ends April 8 at 12:01 a.m. EDT.
Disclosure:I received a copy of the DVD above in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

LÄRABAR® JŎCALAT® Bars - Review & Giveaway

Nourish your cocoa-loving soul with the richness of organic chocolate. Blended with dates and nuts, this delightful treat provides 1/2 serving of fruit, 5 grams of fiber and 15% of the recommended daily value of Magnesium. Look what is in them.....
I received my little box of four different LÄRABAR® JŎCALAT® bars and am so excited.  You see these little bars pack so much antioxidants in the chocolate and nutrition in the nuts and dates.  They are so good.  Nourishing. Tasty. Engergizing.  I'll keep these in my desk drawer at work. When I'm feeling a bit fatigued, I'll eat just half of one of these little bars.  They are rich and sweet with the natural sweet of fruit with no added sugars and very satisfying.

I really, really like chocolate.  These don't have the sweet, sugary (though they are very sweet tasting) taste and consistency of candy, but I can STILL get my chocolate fix on with these.  
Just take a look at this nutritional information image.  Impressive, isn't it!???!!!

My treat today was the LÄRABAR® JŎCALAT® Chocolate Coffee.  It has the flavor of organic chocolate-covered espresso beans. It's a smooth taste with a satisfying crunch. Even more, this coffee shop-inspired treat provides ½ serving of fruit and 5 grams of fiber. Look at the ingredients:

  • Organic dates
  • Organic walnuts
  • Organic hazelnuts
  • Fair Trade Certified™ Organic unsweetened chocolate
  • Fair Trade Certified™ Organic cocoa powder
  • Organic cashews
  • Fair Trade Certified™ Organic coffee
GIVEAWAY:  Now you have the chance to receive a little box with four of these impressively good and good-for-you bars.  Just use the Rafflecopter form below. Begins March 22 and ENDS April 8 at 12:02 a.m. EDT.  Open to only USA mainland addresses.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received 4 LÄRABAR® JŎCALAT® bars in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. Product information was acquired from the LÄRABAR® JŎCALAT® website.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

"The Journey - Part 2" by Nancy Herriman, Author: Guest Blogger & Giveaway

It is a joy and privilege to have guest blogger
Nancy Herriman with us again today to
tell us about her Journey as a new author.

Nancy Herriman writes.....   Those of you who follow this blog might recall that when I last wrote a post in August, I described my journey (all ten-plus years of it) to become a published author. (The Journey, Part 1 link)  The road was frustratingly long but very rewarding, and resulted in this year’s April release of The Irish Healer. No author, though (at least not the ones I know), is satisfied with resting on his or her proverbial laurels, brushing their hands together and declaring they are finished with writing after the release of their debut effort. Nope, another book has to be produced. But if I thought I felt anxiety when I was working on The Irish Healer…

My contract with Worthy Publishing was a two-book deal, meaning I had to deliver a second book to them, due a year after my debut novel had released. Fortunately, there was no stipulation that it had to be related to The Irish Healer. I already had begun a story set in 1880s San Francisco about an artist with big dreams and a long-lost (okay, he’s actually believed to be dead by everyone in town) heir fighting over an inheritance. I thought it would be easy to fulfill my obligation - the book was mostly written! - despite dealing with some serious health issues. Little did I understand, even though I’d been warned by my published friends, the effort required to nurture a writing career…and how little housework gets done while you’re arguing with your muse (again) or fretting about what to wear to a publicity event.

Confession time--publicity stuff scares me! Writing a book is one thing, but then you have to sell it, and that requires marketing. Thank goodness my publisher has provided me with some amazing assistance, but in the end, I personally have to get out there and, well, sell. Me. My work. My hopes and my vision. Forge a connection to readers, the vast majority of whom I’ll never meet. All of this absolutely necessary work takes time. A great deal more time than I imagined. And a great deal of stepping out of my comfort zone to do radio interviews and appear at book signings. As outgoing as I am capable of being, this is scary stuff. I had to learn to not let it distract me.

Meanwhile, edits and polishing of Josiah’s Treasure (the title of my 1880s San Francisco book) had to continue. Then, reviews of The Irish Healer began to roll in. Fortunately, most of them were positive. But when I also began to receive e-mails and notes from readers who loved my book, I discovered a new worry--would they love Josiah’s Treasure as much? I now had readers whom I didn’t want to disappoint. Would they come to love Sarah and Daniel and the girls at Sarah’s art studio as much as I did? Would they find my descriptions of life in San Francisco as interesting as I had when I was doing my research? Would my readers at all care about the legacy left by a heart-weary gold miner to two people searching for love? Only time will tell.

And my author’s journey continues. I hope my family hasn’t minded the dust bunnies and the take-out dinners too much, because, after all, I’ve got another book to write.

A blurb about Josiah’s Treasure: 
Sarah Whittier dreams of opening an art studio run by immigrant women. She plans to use the house left to her by family friend Josiah Cady as collateral for her business. But will all be lost when the inheritance is challenged by a man claiming to be Josiah’s son and legal heir? Rumors of gold nuggets hidden in the house place Sarah’s life in danger. Her future uncertain and her safety threatened, Sarah has nowhere to turn. That is, unless she can soften a vengeful man’s heart–and they both learn that love is the greatest treasure of all. Chat With Vera's  review of "Josiah's Treasure."  And also Chat With Vera's review of "The Irish Healer."

GIVEAWAY: Nancy Herriman is providing a copy of Josiah's Treasure for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win. Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form to enter. Begins March 21 and ENDS April 5 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA mainland residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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, Also, if you participate in social media, please join her on Facebook at or on Twitter (@Nancy_Herriman).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Purex with Crystals Fragrance laundry detergent plus fabric softener (Review & Giveaway)

I have been blessed to receive a free bottle of Purex laundry detergent plus fabric softener with Crystals fragrance added.  This is a delightfully fresh and fragrant wash detergent that I am so pleased to use and to recommend.  I have used it without adding any softener to my laundry and also adding a little softener to it.  Both work.  It just depends on how much you want your clothes "softened."

Look at the label! See the words "Dirt Lift Action"! Well that means it is powered with deep cleaning action to brighten and clean your clothes nice and white. Now I'm not saying it's going to get Georgia or North Carolina "red clay imbedded dirt" out or auto-mechanic grease encrusted pants clean.  See, I don't have that type of laundry.  But I feel it will do a very good job of cleaning!

According to the Purex statistics, you could potentially save $45 a year by using Purex with Crystals fragrance detergent.  That's real money! You could start stashing away those pennies now with each load of laundry and eventually have a really nice "Mom's day out"!

FLASH - QUICK - GIVEAWAY:  Here's your chance to get 2 coupons for 2 Free bottles of Purex with Crystals.  Yep! This time I'm going to send one of Chat With Vera's readers two (2) coupons for Free bottles of Purex. That is a total value of up to $12. Use the Rafflecopter entry form below. Begins March 20 and ENDS March 27 at 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA mainland addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE: As a Purex Insider I received a Free bottle of Purex with Crystals fragrance to test and give my honest review. These are all my own honest opinions. The giveaway coupons were also provided  by Purex for my readers.

Monday, March 18, 2013

"My Very First Easter Story Sticker Book" by Lois Rock; illustrated by Alex Ayliffe

About the book: Here is a story and activity book containing a complete retelling of the Easter story presented in a simple manner for young children to grasp. The stickers are used first to complete the illustrations in the main story. Then there are extra activities on each page alongside the story - counting, naming, identifying - with stickers for each. All of the stickers are found in the center of the book where they are grouped and numbered according to activity to make it easy for young children to find the right sticker. A fun and interactive way for children to learn the Easter story.

Review:  As parents and grandparents, we are always looking for interactive and engaging ways to teach our children.  Our little ones need to be able to see, hear, and touch during the learning process.  What they see should be interesting, pretty, colorful, distinctive. What they hear should be the truth, factual, and geared to their age and learning capabilities.  And what they touch should be actually "feelable" (my word coining) or involve their actually doing something with an item.  Stickers have long been a feelable, "doing something with it," way of teaching - similar to the once used "flannel graph." (I KNOW some of you remember your Sunday School teachers using flannel graph to teach your Sunday School lesson and letting you place the figures up on the board.)

The pictures In My Very First Easter Story are simple and colorful.  Not a lot of detail.  The stickers (there are lots of them) with places on each page - large and small - and will help to maintain the child's interest in the book and story for days.

I love the added teachable moments on each page. At the bottom of the page where Jesus upset the tables in the Temple and said that the "...Temple was a place where people pray," the question is raised: "Where are these children saying their prayers? With the answers - mealtime, quiet time, bedtime.

Teaching the crucifixtion of Christ to a young child is very difficult.  How much? How detailed? What to leave out? What to include?  In this little book the author has chosen the words: "...he was put to death: nailed to a cross of wood."

At the conclusion of the book there is a recap of "The Story of Jesus."  I like this because in block form there are 8 blocks that show His story and a young child can readily learn each phase of the life of Jesus this way and "retell it to himself or another." Another good teachable tool.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of My Very First Easter Story by Kregel in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

"The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob: The Journey Begins" by Brooks Olbrys & Illustrated by Kevin Keele

ISBN-13: 978-0982961346
About the book: Despite his idyllic island life, young Bob yearns for a greater sense of fulfillment. With his guardian, Xena the hummingbird, at his side, Bob sets out to seek guidance from the wise and happy creatures of the sea.

From the joyful secrets of Al the dolphin to the insightful advice of Doc the turtle, Earl the clam and Wallace the walrus, Bob uncovers great wisdom.  But to complete his journey, he’ll need to overcome his fears - and Xena’s doubts - and prove himself to Mary Marine, the Island of Roses’s leading marine biologist.

The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob: A Journey Begins is the first episode of a colorful, early chapter book series that provides children with an invaluable introduction to timeless principles of achievement. (from

My thoughts: 
I grew up near the sea on the North Carolina coastline and can identify with the rolling waves, breezes, and joy experienced by Bob in this lushly illustrated early chapter book for young readers. The author brings a delightful child to the readers of the book.  A child just like his or herself that needs that little jolt to nudge him forth in the world to reach out and make decisions.  Decisions that could lead to achievement of joyous goals in life. 

There once was a boy who lived close to the sea
and daydreamed all day about what he might be.
His island was lush and his life wasn't bad,
but he wasn't content with the things that he had.....................
            (and then later in the book)
"Finding your purpose is only the start.
Every good sailor must follow a chart.
So I'll tell you the next thing that you have to do:
Develop a vision and follow it through."
I see the sea friends that Bob finds who give him guidance as he finds what he can achieve in life as really cute personifications of the parents, teachers, and other adults and friends in life who will cheer the child on guiding and encouraging him to learn more, do more, and achieve more.  Some individuals are seemingly gifted in motivation and drive, others are not and need friends along the way to motivate them.  Bob has found them.

The story is beautifully presented in lyrical rhyme and it is amazing that it doesn't get awkward at points as some story-rhymes seem to do.  The author does this well and it is a way to teach vocabulary (rhymes always help in remembering words), rhyme and cadence in writing and speech, and a way to engage the attention of the child (or adult) reading the story. I think this is a good book for children ages 5 to 12 (some to be read to, some to read it themselves).

I look forward to the author's next book in this early chapter book series for young readers featuring Blue Ocean Bob (or maybe a friend). 

On another note, while I agree with the book's principals that we can achieve what we set out to do, I also am a Christian and believe that God guides and leads us.  I know that God sends others along to motivate, teach, encourage, guide us just as Blue Ocean Bob had help.  I also believe that our "guardian" would be the inner conscious and leading of the Holy Spirit encouraging us or discouraging us to follow that which is best for us. 

GIVEAWAY: The author has graciously provided the opportunity for one of Chat With Vera's readers to receive a copy of The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob: The Journey Begins by using the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  Begins March 18 and ENDS April 3 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA mainland residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  
What's up next?  According to author, Brooks Olbrys, the next book is in the editing process right now.  Then it goes to an illustrator this summer or early fall.  What's it about?  It continues with Bob and his role as an assistant marine biologist and, like the first book, each chapter treats a different principle.  In the next book, those principles are confidence, communication, gratitude, responsibility, and success.  Release date expectation (very rough) would be late spring 2014.  I am really looking forward to this book.

About the author: Brooks Olbrys - As a lifelong student of achievement philosophies, Brooks Olbrys was inspired by his young son to make these philosophies accessible to children. With encouragement from best-selling author and personal development coach Bob Proctor, Brooks created the children’s book series, The Adventures of Blue Ocean Bob.

A graduate of Stanford University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, and the University of California at Berkeley School of Law, Brooks is the founder of Children’s Success Unlimited and a managing director at investment bank Ion Partners. He lives with his wife and son in New York City and greatly enjoys escapes to the North and South American coastlines.

About the illustrator: From a young age, Kevin Keele has enjoyed creating artwork in many forms: drawing, oil painting, digital painting, even stained glass. His work has been featured in numerous picture books, magazines, board games, and video games. Though he lives far from any coastlines, he has always been fascinated by the ocean and enjoys illustrating its various creatures.

Kevin is currently an artist for Disney Interactive Studios. He lives in Utah with his wife and two sons. They’re the caretakers of one grouchy cat, three chickens, and thousands of Italian honeybees.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for my honest review. A copy is also provided by the author directly to the winner of the giveaway.  Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.Images and book and bio information were obtained from author sites.

Monday, March 11, 2013

"The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare" by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram (Review & Giveaway)

The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare is an absolutely beautiful book illustrated in delightful watercolors by Anita Jeram. The author, Sam McBratney, also wrote the best-selling classic Guess How Much I Love You. Teamed together, Jeram and McBratney have collaborated to bring us four short stories about Little Nutbrown Hare as he explores the world around him.

He is cautioned by his father, Big Nutbrown Hare, of the dangers; yet he is given some room to explore and make decisions. Little Nutbrown Hare discovers that danger lurks in cloudy mountain and in the big dark hole.  He also discovers that his dad, Big Nutbrown Hare, is there for him and that home is his most favorite place to be.

This is a delightful book to be added to the home book shelf because it will be a reader's choice and a kid's choice for many days to come.  How often do parents, teachers, and librarians say "thank you" to an author or an illustrator for bringing delight into the homes and lives of children and parents when they pick up a lovely book such as The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare?  But today, we say, "Thank you" to each an every author of beautiful children's books.

About the author and illustrator:
Sam McBratney, Author - The Northern Ireland native started writing children's books when he was a teacher in his thirties, with the aim of helping out students who had trouble reading. But he continued writing for a more-personal reason: "the act of imagining simply makes me feel good," he says. The fifty-seventh book of Sam McBratney's career, and his first book with Candlewick Press, was the much-loved GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU, which has sold an astonishing 15 million copies worldwide, and is available in 37 languages. "This is not the sort of thing you expect when most of your books have been remaindered," the author admits. "But, as the frog trapped in the milk discovered, if you keep going, sometimes you find yourself walking on cream cheese." 

Anita Jeram, Illustrator - The illustrator of many popular and critically acclaimed books for children, including ALL PIGS ARE BEAUTIFUL by Dick King-Smith, Anita Jeram has also written several children's books of her own. As author-illustrator of BUNNY, MY HONEY, a sweet story of a bunny lost and then found, Anita Jeram was able to exercise her rabbit-drawing skills. A rabbit is also the hero of I LOVE MY LITTLE STORYBOOK, Anita Jeram's magical tribute to the wonderful world of books.   

GIVEAWAY:   Candlewick Press is providing a copy of this delightful book  for one Chat With Vera's readers to win.  Enter using the Rafflecopter form below (please be patient as it loads. GIVEAWAY begins March 12 and ends March 27 at 12:01 a.m. EST. Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE:  A complimentary copy of The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare was provided by Candlewick Press on behalf of the author in exchange for my honest review.  Opinions expressed are solely my own. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

"A Quilt for Jenna" by Patrick E. Craig

This is absolutely not your typical Amish novel.  Pastor, musician, author Patrick E. Craig is definitely a gifted word-smith and has woven a story that tells the struggles of disillusioned Amish - man and woman.  Of their struggles with their faith in God, their adherence to Amish community beliefs and requirements, and in the political landmines of the day.

The story is multilevel taking the reader from the quaint community of Amish believers in the 1940s, through the war years of World War II, and into the 1950s when the winter storm of the century threatens to bury the hopes of many.

Reuben is a young Amish man who simply believes that the constraints and requirements of their community are not Biblical and he can not see staying and trying to live up to them or by them.  Jerusha is a young woman of faith in God and faith in the leadership of the Amish community.  But the two of them are in love and yet can not come to terms with their differences.

Reuben enters the war as a soldier which is in absolute revolt to his Amish pacifist beliefs of non-violence.  He experiences all the horror and terror that is upfront and close battle, blood shed, and death. Broken, he returns to his roots - the Amish community - and asks for forgiveness for his part in the war and to be reinstated in the community.

Eventually Reuben and Jerusha marry and have a child whose death at age four totally breaks both of them. 

Their journey through all of this is creatively woven in the story by Patrick Craig as we meander back and forth through years giving bits and pieces but ultimately tying it all together beautifully.

You will enjoy this read because of the multilevel, multifaceted story which deals with the sweet romance, the internal struggles of individuals with their faith, and the personal battles to do that which is right.  The World War II jungle battle scenes of Guadalcanal are not something you would normally find in a  novel about the Amish and will truly make this an "Amish book that men will enjoy."  I await Patrick Craig's next book in this series with great anticipation.

About the author: Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of A Quilt for Jenna by Patrick E. Craig by Harvest House Publishers on behalf of the author in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Peek-a-Boo-Promises God Love You & Peek-A-Boo-Promises God Keeps You Safe by Michelle medlock Adams

O.k. folks. I realize you get a bit weary hearing me say this, but I'll say it again! "I love books!" I especially love children's books that are lovely, engaging to the child, right size to hold, educational, fun, lovely (oops! I already said that!), and interactive.  So today I'm bringing you a couple of books for the toddlers in your life. 

These little books incorporate the old tried-and-true game that kiddies love - Peek-A-Boo.  On each and every page, you'll have a short rhyme on the left side page and on the right side page you'll lift a flap that will finish the "poem."  The right side gives a Scripture reference.  So here is what it is like...
Just like a bird that spreads its wings,
God shelters you from scarey things.(Psalm 91:4)
Mom can have her Bible open and then read that particular verse to the child and plant a seed of faith in God's protection.

In the first book:  Peek-A-Boo Promises God Keeps You Safe the child will see that God's promises for protection are hidden underneath the flap:  Shelter from scarey things, angels protecting him, help through the day, etc.

In the second book: Peek-A-Book Promises God Loves You the child learns that God made you and loves you, God knows you, God's love is here to stay and will never go away.

These are beautiful words of encouragement and instill the confidence in the child that God is there for him through everything.

I can hardly wait to pass these lovely books along to my youngest two grand daughters. I am sure their mommy will show them how each flap reveals one of God's promises to them.  Well, I actually think the 7 and 9 year olds will enjoy it, too.

I encourage adults who have a toddler in your sphere of influence to consider getting one of these lovely books and putting it into the hands of that little one you love.
DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of each of these Peek-A-Boo Promises books from Ideals Publications Candy Cane Press in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I also receive a second set which I will pass along to a family with a little one to enjoy.

Dial® Coconut Water Body Wash (Sweepstakes & review & giveaway)

The Dial® Healthier Skin. Healthier You.® product line is simply another way that the Dial® company is living up to its reputation of caring for its consumers and also that it is continuing to provide products of high quality and are dependable.  I was given the opportunity to review the new Dial® Coconut Water Body Wash.

When you go to the store in search of a good body wash, you are faced with shelves featuring a plethora of brands, fragrances, lotions, potions, and notions of goodness. You get the one you picked out home, open it up, slather on the suds and then you realize that you have just bought another one that you don't like the way it leaves your skin feeling, don't like the fragrance, makes you itch, makes your skin dry, makes you wish you could simply take it back to the store or pour it down the drain.  But frugality reigns and you continue to use it. Oh my! Are we happy campers then? No.
Well, when I opened the bottle of Dial® coconut Water Body Wash I sniffed and thought, "This smells promising." Then I used it.  and it is definitely a keeper.  The fragrance is fresh and has the essence of a Summer or Spring breeze. Coconut? Well, it doesn't smell like any other coconut product I have ever experienced!  I normally don't care for anything for my skin that hints of coconut. But this Dial® coconut Water Body Wash simply is so pleasant!  And lathers nicely.  Leaves my skin feeling good. Not tight and dry. Just good and clean.  Now what is in this stuff?

Coconut water is found in young, green coconuts and is known to be rich in antioxidants and electrolytes that provide replenishing hydration. Tending in the food and beverage category, coconut water is on the cutting edge.  Coconut water is know as "super water" for its natural hydration and health benefits.

This is a product that any member of your family will benefit from using and they will actually enjoy the pleasant fragrance. It can be your family body wash.

CHAT WITH VERA "GIVEAWAY" So again, Dial® has brought us a quality, trustworthy product.  Now you can WIN IT by following the instructions below.  Begins March 7 and ENDS March 25 at 12:01 EDT. Open to USA 48 contiguous states only.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: Dial Soap provided me with a sample of NEW Dial® Coconut Water Body Wash in exchange for a product review. Opinions expressed here are solely my own. Product information was provided by the Dial® publicist.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sweet Sally's and Key Lime Bars (Review and Giveaway)

Sally's (of Sweet Sally's) has been busy cooking up a storm and making life a bit sweeter and the memories of past years more dear on a day to day and month by month basis. It's a way of life for her. She has made a name for herself in the New Jersey area, and now her reputation is spreading via the internet. Today let's look at Sally a bit since she's the one behind all this sweet goodness.

Sally showing a try of really
yummy looking goodies. 
Makes me want to grab a cup of coffee
or tea and indulge in their goodness.

Sally Saltzbart Minier is a third generation baker and has been active in the kitchen since she was very young.

Sally says, "As a child, I learned the mathematical concept of 'fractions' by working with measuring cups and was taught the basic 'tricks of the trade' by my Grama Gracie and my Mom, Carrie. Grama Gracie was known for her Jewish specialties and Mom is famous for her world class Apple Pie, New York Cheesecake, Classic Spritz Butter Cookies and LBI Blueberry Buckle."
Sally (on right) showing her niece how to bake
and passing along the legacy!
 When my children were growing up, I used cooking, too, to show them fractions.  They wanted to help mommie and we just got in there and mixed it all up.... flour, fractions, fun, fantastic mess!  But my children learned cooking skills, math skills, homemaking skills, and had a loving time with Mom.  So I understand about Sally growing up and inheriting the skills from Grama Gracie and Mom. 

Sally sent her Florida Key Lime Bars for me to taste and review and we're going to take a look at these today!   Don't they just look absolutely delectable?  Well, truth-be-told, THEY ARE!!  Of course, when they arrive in their little Sweet Sally's box and are tucked inside with red tissue paper, they don't have a little slice of lime on top like you see in the picture.  You get the Florida Key Lime Bars.  You can add your own dusting of powdered sugar and tiny slice of lime just before you serve them.  Or you can just eat them as they come.  
All Natural Ingredients: Flour, sugar, light brown sugar,
unsalted butter, coconut, white chocolate, confectioner’s
sugar, salt, eggs, key lime juice, and magic.
My husband dearly loves Key Lime cake and Key Lime pie, so I was not really surprised when he exclaimed that these were "scrumptious"! Key limes have that beautiful dark green peel, and to make really good Key lime "anything" you have to get the lime zest from them.  The taste test makes it evident that these key lime bars are made from real Key limes and other real, natural products. And I was surprised at the bits of coconut in these bars which gave them a new taste and texture from other lime or lemon bars - definitely an asset. 

GIVEAWAY: Sally is going to send one of Chat With Vera's reader a box of 6 Key Lime Bars.  You can try to be the recipient of this delectable treat by entering via the Rafflecopter form below. Begins March 4 and ENDS March 25 at 12:01 a.m. EST. Open to USA 48 contiguous states only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  
KOSHERSweet Sally's Bakeshop is a Kosher Bakery and mail order desserts specialist. Offering Kosher cakes, cookies, bars, brownies, scones & Gluten Free products.

All of Sweet Sally’s home baked goods, confections and sweet gifts are made to order and contain the freshest ingredients in the marketplace.  Each item is made from scratch, the way Mom and Grama always baked and we never use artificial ingredients, trans fats or preservatives. Whenever possible, we source local ingredients. 
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a box of Sweet Sally's Key Lime Bars in exchange for my honest review. Opinion expressed is solely my own. Ingredient and other information pertinent to Sweet Sally's were garnered from their website. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Musselman's Applesauce "Replacement Resolution" promotion for a healthier life (review & giveaway)

Resolution! You start the New Year off with good intentions, make those "I'll eat healthier," "I'll exercise more," or "I'll cut out that junk food" resolutions and then by February or March you've fallen off the wagon, 'er maybe exercise bike, or whatever. The deal is you didn't keep those resolutions. But we're here today to show you that you can do it!

 Replacement Resolution:  You made a resolution and didn't keep it. So what! We're going to replace those lost, fell-short-of, or "I forgot" resolutions and go simple. Go healthy. Go good. We're going to pack in the applesauce a little bit at a time. And we're going to use applesauce to replace (now say it with me!!!) Chips! High calorie snack bars! Candy! Ice Cream! You get the gist of it? How can we do this? Well, my technique is to purchase those little six-packs of individual cups of applesauce. No refrigeration needed. They tote well. They tuck into a desk drawer well. They fit into a lunch box (bag, pail, box, whatever) well. Dad can do it. Junior can do it. Sis can do it. Mom can do it

Musselmans Applesauce has provided me with three six-packs of applesauce: natural, cinnamon, and original. And they are so good! Also, they sent me a wonderful exercise ball. 

Musselman has given me the opportunity to participate in their "Replacement Resolution" promotion. I am honored to be their representative in this wonderful promotion. The gist of it is you simply replace high calorie or high fat snacks with Musselman's applesauce. The result will be fewer fat grams, fewer calories, less sugar, lower sodium in your diet and hopefully a healthier you!

Along with the "Replacement Resolution" is the premise that if we get moving and exercise in whatever way we can (according to our health, age, and ability) and we replace snacks with applesauce, we will get stronger and we will get healthier. Now that's a goal I can aim for.  Another resolution of mine is to drink more water.  We have exceptionally good well water at our home and it is filled with minerals.  So this is another good replacement resolution.  Less soft drinks and more water!

Being a Southern-lady-of-a-certain-age, I'm really not into getting all hot and sweaty. I've never really exercised much - beyond taking care of the house and a bit of walking. So I need to get up and get moving. Well, Musselmans is going to be helping me with that, too. They sent me a big fat yoga ball. I inflated it with the little pump that came with it and proceeded to introduce myself to it's glories.
  • Step 1 is you inflate it
  • Step 2 is you go online and find out how to use it - especially if you're in the "senior" category like I am.(Isn't Google great!)
  • Step 3 is you sit on the ball and try not to fall off. Oops! You did! You get back on and find you CAN balance on it and move your arms a bit. You can sit and do leg raises and some upper body twists.  Tomorrow is another day, and you WILL try it again.
  • Step 4 is you make sure you replace those fat snacks and high calorie snacks with applesauce. (I'm a step ahead on this one because I stock my desk at work with two or three little cups of applesauce at all times.)

Would you like to participate in the Musselman's "Replacement Resolution"? You can enter the giveaway below; and if you're the winner, Musselman will send you a wonderful box that has 3 six-packs of little cups of Musselman's applesauce and they will also send you the yoga ball! Then you can see if YOU can BALANCE on it, too.

GIVEAWAY: Now go ahead and use the Rafflecopter form below and let's get "Resolving to Replace" all that fat and high calorie stuff in our diets. (Begins March 3 and ends March 20  @ 12:00 a.m. EST - Open to USA addresses only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE: I received Musselman's applesauce and the yoga ball in exchange for my promoting the Replacement Resolution and for my honest opinion. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

"Little Angels Prayers for Every Day" by Roma Downey with Illustrator lisa Reed (review & giveaway)

I love books! I especially love beautiful, adorable children's picture books.  And on top of that, I absolutely love picture books for children that are beautiful, adorable, AND teach the wonders of God, His love, His heart, and His caring for His children.  So when I saw Little Angels Prayers for Every Day, I saw the adorable children learning to pray about any and everything and at any time during the day or night.
Dear God
You made the sun and moon.
You made the galaxy.
And, Lord, I'm very grateful that you also made me! Amen!

Dear Jesus,
All the birdies in their nests
tending to their young,
are singing praises to you, Lord--
such lovely songs are sung. Amen!

Dear Lord,
Every day I pray
for something for myself.
Today I'd like to pray
for something nice for someone else! Amen!
When my children were growing up, oh so very many years ago, I had some little "Golden Books"with children's prayers in them. I like to think that teaching my children little prayers  encouraged them to develop the habit of praying at a young age.

Prayers for Every Day will aid the parent in teaching their child to pray in all circumstances.  Some of the prayers have light rhyme, some are simple statements.  And if you will notice in the above quotes, the prayers don't ALL say "Dear God."  They address the different personages or titles for our God:  God, Jesus, Lord
GIVEAWAY:  Flyby Promotions on behalf of Ideals Books and author, Roma Downey, are providing one of Chat With Vera's readers the opportunity to win a copy of Little Angels: Prayers for Every Day. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below (wait patiently as it is sometimes slow to load).  
  a Rafflecopter giveaway
In conclusion, I do not especially care for depicting angels as little people or as children.  However, I see the concept is to enable the small child to visualize angels ever watching over them as promised in the Bible.

About the Book:  Little Angels Prayers for Every Day features more than 50 simple rhyming prayers that cover a typical day and the typical worries of a young child. From waking in the morning to going to sleep at night, from thanking God for a meal to praying for His comfort when afraid, the prayers here will help little ones to see that any moment is a good moment to talk to God. Relevant Bible verses are scattered throughout the book as well!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"Ransom's Mark: Daughters of the Faith Series" by Wendy Lawton

About the book: Ransom’s Mark recounts the story of thirteen-year-old Olive Oatman’s journey west by wagon train.  Renegade Yavapais capture Olive and her sister in 1851 after the massacre of their family.  A year later the Mohaves rescue the sisters and tattoo them with the mark of ransom.  The cruelty of Olive’s early captivity and the death of her sister from starvation bring Olive to the edge of despair before she discovers what ransom really means.

Ransom’s Mark is a middle grade novel, and will appeal to girls from ages 8 - 11.

My thoughts:  Wendy Lawton has again written a moving, historically sound biographical history of a young girl from the early pioneer days of the United States.  When her father decides to move west with friends it isn't a simple trek across the county line.  It entails completely uprooting the family, selling possessions, walking exhausting miles across dry parched land as well as seeing the beauty of the countryside in full bloom.

It means doing without enough to eat and drink and not having the privacy for basic bodily needs.  It means the fear of hostile Indians from tribal groups.  And it finally means facing a future without her family when they were all massacred by renegade Indians and only she and one younger sister were spared.

Wendy Lawton has graced this book with a good glossary so parents and teachers can readily teach the historical terms.  The age for which this moving story is written is 8 to 11.  However, for the very sensitive child, I would recommend perhaps ages 10 to 13.  Portions are very intense. I highly recommend this book as well as others in the Daughters of the Faith series by Wendy Lawton for the home, school, and church library.

Other books by Wendy Lawton reviewed on Chat With Vera are:  Shadow of His Hand, The Captive Princess, and Almost Home.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Ransoms' Mark by Moody Publishers on behalf of the author in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Manner-Man" by Sherrill S. Cannon & Illustrated by Kalpart (benefits Juvenile Myositis Foundation) - Review & Giveaway

Manner-Man is a superhero who is called forth by Rob to help him and his friends deal with rude, bullying, mean, grabbing children.  Manner-Man (with the wonderful red "M" on his hand) is summoned when Rob (and later Rob's friends)  raises three fingers in the air (they actually form an upside-down M) and reciting:
"I am strong, and my flash is bright,
And I will defend you and make things all right."

Another key aspect of managing unruly playmates is to say (or shout out), "Not nice" whenever there is a grabbing, pushing, snatching playmate. 

Manner-Man saves the day time after time no matter what.  But as the day progresses and Manner-Man comes to the rescue, the kids are learning lessons in how to deal with different situations and people.

As Rob goes through the day, he (and we) meet more of Sherril Cannon's other book characters:  Gimme-Jimmy, and Elisabeth of Magic Word fame.  In the delightful Kalpart illustrations, we see Peter and the Whimper-Whineys book laying on Rob's blanket after has had fallen asleep.  Covers to previous books by this author show up in Manner-Man.  The illustrations by Kalpart are consistent in all of Sherril Cannon's books and bring continuity to the storytelling.  I have reviewed these books by Ms. Cannon on Chat With Vera. To read, click links to books in this paragraph.

The themes of kindness, sharing, not-bullying, not pushing, not grabbing, not whining, etc. are brought out in these three books and are reinforced in Manner-Man. If a home or school has the entire set, they will see wonderful opportunities for reinforcement of good behavior and social skills by using the books interchangeably.

The rhyming text has a nice cadence and is a delight to read aloud or to listen while it is being read.  Young readers, with somewhat advanced skills, will be able to read it to themselves but it is delightful to read aloud to young children.

Another wonderful aspect of purchasing one of Ms. Cannon's books is that it supports a wonderful charitable organization: Cure JM Foundation (found at  50% of the cost of these award-winning books by author Sherrill S. Cannon will go directly to the Cure JM Foundation. Juvenile Myositis (JM). JM is a group of rare and life-threatening autoimmune conditions affecting approximately 17,000 children in the United States alone. Visit the Cure JM Foundation website.

GIVEAWAY: The author has graciously provided a copy of Manner-Man for one of Chat With Vera's readers. Just enter via the Rafflecopter links below.  (Please be patient as Rafflecopter is sometimes a bit slow to load.) This giveaway only open to USA addresses. Begins March 2, 2013 - ENDS March 18 at 12:01 a.m. EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Books may be purchased at the author's website,, Barnes & Noble and other book venders.
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary review copy was provided by the author in exchange for my honest review.  Opinions expressed are solely my own. The giveaway copy is also provided by the author and is to be mailed directly to the winner.