Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sound of Red Returning by Sue Duffy

ISBN-13: 9780825425745
Review: A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to review Red Dawn Rising which is book two in the Red Returning Triology. It was such a good read, I wanted to read and review book one in the series, Sound of Red Returning. I was not a bit disappointed! Although I knew from book two that book one was going to come out alright, it was still a good adventure.

Our heroine, Liesl Bower, is a gifted concert pianist who has studied with the famous and who has given concerts on the stages across the globe. But she seems targeted by international agents who are after something she possesses but that she doesn't realize she has.

Having studied under the superb tutorage of Schell Devoe, an internationally acclaimed Harvard music professor, she was able to travel for study in Russia.  After her beloved mentor's murder, she learns he was a double agent - betraying both his own country, America, and Russia.

Sound of Red Rising is set primarily in Charleston, South Carolina but you will flit in and out of Washington as well. The characters in this book are Cade and his grandfather, Ian, who live in the basement apartment of Liesl's grandmother's home. There is a bit of beginning romance between Liesl and Cade, and the grandfather, Ian, is a "real character." Ian and Chad "cowboy" in on the adventure with the CIA and FBI.

There is a good measure of sound spiritual wisdom without sounding preachy. A good book and I'm glad I went back and read book one, Sound of Red Returning.  Can't wait for the third book to come out.

Experience footnote of  my own: Having lived during the "Cold War" and knowing the very real tension between the US and Russia during this period, I found this story especially interesting. The underlying theme of Red Returning is daunting.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of  Sound of Red Returning by Kregel Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

If the Shoe Fits - A Contemporary Fairytale by Sandra D. Bricker

ISBN-13: 9780802406286
Review: If you thought you'd left Snow White, Cinderella, and prince charming behind in elementary school, think again! Sandra Bricker writes contemporary romantic comedy stories that will keep you almost bouncing in your chair from your giggles and tee-hee-hees.  Get ready for a rollicking, unbelievable (well, it is based on a fairytale) story of girl, boy, boy, girl, mess, fuss, crying, laughing. Well, you get a bit of the picture.

Julianne and Will grew up as next door neighbors and best friends. Now they are both attorneys and have just launched their own partnership in a law practice. The signage is new. The receptionist is new. The furniture is new. The clients are new and in short supply.

Julianne feels that everyone (that is with an all "bold" capital "E") thinks she can't get and keep a boyfriend. That she is an old maid. That she will die a spinster. Then she sees a real handsome feller strolling down the street and she thinks he's the one. She begins her pursuit.  (Kick in big-time laughs here!)

Well, Will is another story altogether. And that is where the real kicker kicks in (pun intended).
This is Christian fiction in that the characters live Christian lives, go to church, and are morally upright. There are no deep insights into Christianity.

Are the characters believable? Well, you know a fairytale is rife with unbelievable stuff and so is this cute story. It is a fun read and good for a couple of evenings entertainment. Enjoy, and get your Biblical studies from the source - the Bible.

DISCLOSURE: I was provide a complimentary copy by River North Fiction from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Strangers on the high Seas: A Captain No Beard Story by Carole P. Roman (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN-13: 9781480177222
Taking inspiration from the "pirates" in her own ship, author Carole Roman brings us book four in the series Captain No Bear in which the newest member of the crew, Cabin Girl Cayla, is introduced. It doesn't matter that she is still in diapers and is the "littlest" one on board she is important and plays a major role in the outcome of the story.

Prepare yourselves, me Mateys, for a hilarious adventure that is sure to tickle yer innards. The introduction of a new ship sailing their seas and threatening to overtake their ship brings adventure. But Captain No Beard's new crew mate, Cabin Girl Cayla, has a secret weapon and the ship is saved to sail again.

Again the children, Alexander (Captain No Beard), Hallie (First Mate), and stuffed animals have sailed the high seas of the Alexander's bed adventuring as pirates who are learning to save the day, help each other, be considerate, etc.

G IVEAWAY: Carole Roman has graciously provided a copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to vie for. Just use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Happy sailing, Matey! Begin July 26 & ENDS August 14  @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.  Open to USA addresses only. (BIG UPDATE: Author authorizes 2 books so we will have 2 winners to each receive a book!!!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: A complimentary copy of this book was provided by the author/Bostick Communications in exchange for my honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Here's the low-down on the great "Tyndale Rewards" program! How you can get free books and Bibles. Read on......

About Tyndale Rewards - Say, have you heard the great news?

The Tyndale Rewards program is designed to provide you with opportunities to get books and Bibles for zero dollars. That’s right—F. R. E. E. As a member of the Tyndale Rewards program, you’ll have access to inspiring literature, Bibles, special promotional offers, and much more.

Other member incentives include a free gift on your birthday, along with opportunities to share your personal recommendations and feedback concerning Tyndale products. The more participation you have with the program, the more points you earn—and points translate into free stuff!

The Tyndale Rewards program is a great way to get free books and Bibles that you can keep for yourself or give to friends and family. Your journey to earning free faith-based products is here!

Earning Points...

To refer your friends and earn points first you sign up for free. Then click the “Earn Points” tab get your code from the “Invite a Friend to Join” section.

There is no cap on the amount of points you can generate through referring friends to signup. (AND on a note to Chat With Vera's friends, when you sign up by using the links in this review, you give ME a point or so but it doesn't cut down on your points.)

Redeeming Points... (after you have joined.....)

Log in to your account on to see how many points you have collected in your account. Next, browse the product available for redemption. If you find a product you like and you have accumulated enough points, click the “Redeem” button.

Your Points will never expire!


A glimpse at the rewards to choose from....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Big Year for Lily, Book 3 in the Advetures of Lily Lapp series by Suzzanne Woods Fisher & Mary Ann Kinsinger (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN:  9780800721343
$12.99 Paperback
Ages 8-12
Chapter book: 263 pages
About the book:  Lily Lapp's family has settled into their new home in Pennsylvania, but life still holds big changes and big steps for Lily. Good changes, like once again living close to her beloved cousin and best friend, Hannah. Bad changes, like a mean girl who plays tricks on her. And no change at all where Lily would most want one---Aaron Yoder sits near her in school and relentlessly teases her. Surprises are in store for Lily as she learns, with Mama and Papa's help, to manage the ups and downs of growing up Amish.

Review:  We became friends with young Lily in book 1 of the series and continue our friendship in book 3 - A Big Year for Lily.  Lily has her 10th birthday and that's a very big year in the life of a young Amish girl. She begins to dress differently, socialize differently, and supposedly behave differently.

But Lily is Lily and try as she might, she finds herself in one scrape after another. At school she contents with the boys - specifically one who seems to torment her and yet takes up for her. She has an issue, continuously, with one of the bossy girls. But Lily learns lessons in truthfulness, kindness, honor, and grace. She learns not to be nosy but to somewhat, at least, curtail her curiosity.

Lily is again a delightful little girl growing up Amish. But her life isn't really that much different from other little girls and the lessons each  must learn as they grow. I heartily recommend this delightful book and series to young girls everywhere and to libraries public, church, school.

GIVEAWAY: The publicist, Litfuse Publicity Group, has graciously provided a copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win.  Use the simple entry Rafflecopter form below to enter.  Begins July 23 & ENDS August 12 @ 12:01 EDT.  Open to USA residents only.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author:   Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, 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 Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is the host of internet radio show Amish Wisdom and a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines.

DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary copy of A Big Year for Lily in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. No compensation was received for this review.  Published by Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Brotherhood Conspiracy A Novel By Terry Brennan

I did not have the opportunity to read The Sacred Cipher which is the forerunner of The Brotherhood Conspiracy by Terry Brennan. I wish I had because getting "into" the story of The Brotherhood Conspiracy would have been much easier to understand. The plethora, somewhat overwhelming at times, of characters was disconcerting to this reader.

The main character, Tom Bohannon, has previously discovered a Third Temple of God for the Israelites and it was hidden under the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. He and others on his original discovery team are again drawn into the world of international politics and the clash of and warring struggle between religious factions in the Jerusalem area and on international scene.

Tom's team delves into the most minute thread of evidence that would lead them to more discoveries involving the Temple Mount, they encounter danger from the Israelites, Muslim, and others intent on preventing more discoveries. It is intriguing to see how national and religious history, political interests from several nations, and the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious factions are layered one upon the other in the plots and twists of the story.

The Brotherhood Conspiracy can be read as a stand-alone book, but I highly recommend reading The Sacred Cipher first if able. The Brotherhood Conspiracy is highly enjoyable and a treat to read.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. No compensation was received. Opinions expressed are solely my own. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors by Bodie Hodge

About the book:  The Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors reveals our shared ancestry as never before! Many are familiar with the Biblical account of Babel, but after the dispersal, there was a void beyond Biblical history until empires like Rome and Greece arose. Now, discover the truth of these people groups and their civilizations that spread across the earth and trace their roots back to Babel as well as to the sons and grandsons of Noah. 

Many of today’s scholars write off what occurred at the Tower of Babel as mythology and deny that it was a historical event. Beginning with the Biblical accounts, author Bodie Hodge researched ancient texts, critical clues, and rare historic records to help solve the mystery of what became of the failed builders of Babel. For the purpose of defending the Bible, Hodge presents these and other vital historical facts surrounding this much-debated event. Teens and older can use this layman’s reference for Biblical classes, ancient history, apologetics training, and to realize their own cultural connection to the Bible.

My thoughts: I believe it is rather obvious that the lay person (I'm one of those "lay persons") can only take at face value what is taught by "authorities" on the subject of civilizations and events in history, especially ancient history. However, Christians do have an authority on which to base how they individually interpret history and that is God's Word, the Bible. But that, too, you see is open to interpretation by various scholars. So looking at the scholarly work of authorities in the field of archeology and Biblical studies, the lay person can begin to form opinions of his/her own regarding the subject of how the languages became confounded, how man migrated throughout the earth, and what the Tower of Babel actually was.

In The Tower of Babel by Bodie Hodge we find a relatively short, yet thorough treatise on man's dispersion, the origins of language varieties, and thoughts on the actual tower's structure.

The Tower of Babel shows that roughly 106 years after the flood and the settling of Noah's family's descendants in the plains of Shinar, the people began to build a tower to reach God. But God, displeased with this action, confounded their language and they set out to separate themselves by language. This led to migrations.

This is not a coffee table book or one that you can peruse lightly and understand. The material is complex and involves Biblical studies as well as an understanding of available history and archeology of the period. I found it interesting and believe it would be a valuable asset for the individual who wishes to pursue the study of the tower of Babel, spread of peoples (nations), and confounding of the languages. This little volume would be an asset to the home, school, or public library.

This is a small, intensely researched book on the Tower of Babel and it has a decidedly Biblical Creationist slant.

More reading on the subject:

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by New Leaf Publishing Group for the purpose of review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. No compensation was received for this review.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Blood and Bone by Don Hoesel

Having read Don Hoesel's Elijah's Bones in the past, when given the opportunity to review  Blood and  Bone which is the third book in the series of the adventures of archaeologist Dr. Jack Hawthorne.  Dr. Hawthorne is a college professor who previously had been hired to find the bones of the prophet Elijah. He found them after many adventures and much intrigue and danger from a variety of sources.

Blood and Bone finds him again looking for Elijah's Bones which have been moved from the desert burial place where Dr. Hawthorne had left them. What got him to this place and seeking the bones this time was a rogue CIA agent whose wife is dying and who hopes to see her healed by the residual power of God residing in the bones. Is this the stuff of legends or what? Fast moving powerful men move in to kidnap Dr. Hawthorne's two sons and send he and his wife on the quest to retrieve the bones of Elijah. This quest takes them to Australia, London, Paris, St. Petersburg. They follow clues found embedded in codes they can decipher.

This is adventure. This is intrigue. This is virtually unbelievable. But then, many adventures take us out of our realm of the known and thrust us into the unbelievable and unknown tucked between the pages of a novel. This is fiction and it is an adventurous read. I think they guys will enjoy it and there is not blood and gore, profane language, nor unwanted moral depravity. A safe read. An enjoyable read.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Trouble in Store by Carol Cox

ISBN: 978076429567
About the book:  After losing her position as a governess, Melanie Ross turns to her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. Unfortunately, Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile…and he’s not interested in sharing.

However, Melanie and Caleb are forced to set aside their differences when someone starts sabotaging their store. And as they spend more time together, Caleb begins to realize that Melanie could be the perfect partner for him, and not just in the mercantile. But will their business—and their budding romance—survive the trouble ahead?

My thoughts: Time for another good summer read. Trouble in Store takes us from the ritzy home where Melanie is governess to a bratty child into the wilds of Arizona in 1885.  Melanie is feisty and digs in her heels because she wants what she perceives to be hers and she had no place else to go. But - isn't there always a "but" in a good story - there is trouble.

Trouble with Caleb who just knows he is the rightful owner of the mercantile. Trouble in the form of a dead man turning up (oops, down) on the store's back door stoop. Trouble with folks taking a disliking to them - big time. And on and on it goes.

There are scenes that will tickle your fancy and scenes that are comfortably predictable. But this is a light, summer-time read. Or a by-the-fireside wintery read. You know. A nice comfy book. There is nothing in the book to offend. There is plenty to entertain.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Trouble in Store from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Friday, July 19, 2013

"A Bride for All Seasons" by Margaret Brownley, Robin Lee Hatcher, Mary Connealy, & Debra Clopton (Review & Book Giveaway)

Review:  The concept of a mail order bride is basically foreign and totally unacceptable to the American woman of today who has for many years been pretty much in control of whom she will engage socially, much less whom she will marry. She now sees, gets to know, decides if she wants to live her life with the man.  However, historically that has not always been the case for women in general. During the 1800s when the frontier of America was being discovered and settled - by men, there was a dearth of women from whom helpmeets or wives could be sought. Therefore, the mail order bride catalog or advertisement took root. It drew women from the East to the West. Most often these women were destitute, without means of livelihood, no home of their own, no family, etc. So that leads us to A Bride for All Seasons.

This collection of novellas by four stand-out successful authors is a delightfully easy, summer read.  A light romance in each (no surprises here) situation ends happily with the lady and the gentleman loving each other.  There is no connectivity to the stories other than the fact that they were all the result of the "Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue" business.

I occasionally enjoy reading the shorter novellas rather than the full-length novels.  They are usually quick reads and lighter in nature. These were no exception. I do prefer some connectivity to a collection of novellas and some overlap of characters which this collection does not have. All-in-all, though these are enjoyable stories, light reads, perfect for no-brainer summer reads.

GIVEAWAY:  Litfuse has graciously provided a giveaway copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win. Just use the Rafflecopter entry form (patience, please, it can be slow to load). Begins July 19 & ENDS August 7 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.  Open in USA only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Four novellas, four brides,
and four stories to fall in love with.

Enter the world of mail-order brides with four of your favorite authors: Mary Connealy, Robin Lee Hatcher, Debra Clopton, and Margaret Brownley. In A Bride for All Seasons (Thomas Nelson) each of the prospective brides is hopeful for a second chance at love—and that second chance always seems to come in an unexpected package.
The authors are celebrating with a fun 12 Days of Unexpected Packages Giveaway! Between July 12-23 visit the authors' Facebook Page to enter to win a new give away each day. Winners will be announced at the Facebook Author Chat party on July 23rd! Such fun!  

Top:Margaret  Brownley, Robin Lee Hatcher
Bottom: Mary Connealy, Debra Clopton
About the authors: 
Margaret Brownley is a NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author and has penned more than twenty-five historical and contemporary novels. @margaretbrownley
Robin Lee Hatcher is a Christy and RITA award-winning author. Her books often appear on bestseller lists. @robinleehatcher
Mary Connealy is a Carol Award winner, an a RITA, Christy and Inspirational Reader's Choice finalist. @MaryConnealy
Debra Clopton is an award winning author of sweet, heartfelt, western romance that face life with a smile. With over 2 million books in print, Debra has her first book coming as a movie starring LeAnn Rimes. @debraclopton

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of A Bride for All Seasons from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Hooligan Bear by Ian Toynton, Andrea Dietrich (Illustrator) - Review & Giveaway

I stumbled across a delightful children's friend one day when I was checking out Facebook. This new friend is Hooligan Bear and he has friend-bears of his own. He has his own Facebook page and his own Twitter. What a cool bear! What drew me, a grandmother of 13, to him is the beautiful illustrations that bring him to life and plant him squarely in your heart.  We all know stuffed bears and children have a strong affinity to each other. Well, welcome Hooligan Bear to the club.  You'll be glad he has joined.

His first episode or book adventure is Hooligan Bear: Home, and that is what we're going to look at today. Hooligan and his nephew, Louie, are going home to the bear factory. They enter into the factory only to find it deserted. No bears. No anything! This is home. What are they to do?  Hooligan being the loving, caring "elder bear" he is, assures his nephew Louie that they'll find a spot for home.

They find a shelf to live on and then go looking for a bed for Louie. The adventures begin. I found the adventure fun and laughable and sure to tickle the fancy of young children who are adventurers at heart. The tenderness of Hooligan for Louie is reflected in the words and actions of the bear as well as the soft, finely crafted illustrations that bring the character and feelings of the bears to life on the pages of Hooligan Bear: Home.

I highly recommend the book for home and libraries.
 GIVEAWAY:  I have 3 Hooligan Bear adventures. Giveaways will be spread out over the next few weeks. Each time I review one of the books, I'll host a giveaway for that book.  Today's  book is Hooligan Bear: Home and the kind author and illustrator are graciously providing a copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers. You and your kiddie are just going to enjoy this so much! So get moving and enter using the Rafflecopter form below. Begins July 19 & ENDS August 6 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.

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Ways you can follow the adventures of Hooligan Bear:,, & Twitter @hooliganbears @hbhooliganbear @hblittlelouie

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy for the purpose of this review. No compensation was received by me for the review. The giveaway copy is also provided by them and will be shipped directly to the winner.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Purex® Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets - New improved formula with 3X the fragrance! (Review & GIVEAWAY)

Fabric softener sheets have been around for awhile. Lots of people use them. Then when they've finished using them as a "throw in the dryer fabric softener," they have found other uses for the little sheets. Ingenuity! Who knew that one little sheet could do so much?

Now the folks at
Purex® have fabricated (oops! pun intended) a new Fabric Softener Sheet that doesn’t just reduce static cling and leave your family’s laundry soft and smelling fresh, the little sheets can also keep your whole house smelling fresh! Just choose your favorite fragrance (I like both, but chose lavander for my "trial run") and tuck a sheet in hampers, in the linen closets, and any other laundry storage areas. You can add freshness and softness throughout your household with Purex® Fabric Softener Sheets!

Things to note about Purex® Fabric Softener sheets:

  • reduce static cling
  • repel pet hair
  • repel lint
  • smaller box
GIVEAWAY: I have 2 FREE PRODUCT coupons that Purex® has sent me to give to one of Chat With Vera's readers. Just use the entry form below and let's have some fun seeing who can win both coupons - 1 winner for the 2 coupons. Begins July 19  & ENDS August 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE: Purex® provided a box of Purex® Fabric Softener Sheets and the free product coupons to me in exchange for my honest review.  Opinions expressed are solely my own.

"Mary Kay Cosmetics" representative shares how she got started (Review & Giveaway)

Today I'd like to share a lady that can help you with your skin care needs. Dawn Janis is a multi-layered individual wearing several hats. Read the interview below and also factor into that she does book reviews, too.

How did you get started as a Mary Kay representative?  I have worn Mary Kay for years. All through high school and college. It's really the only makeup I could find that (1) didn't break me out and (2) didn't leave a base line. In high school and college, I didn't wear it daily. So whenever I needed something, the consultant who I would order from would be out of business. I was working at Family Christian Stores at the time that I met Laura, my future director. She was wearing something that said Mary Kay on it. I asked her if she sold Mary Kay and she said "Yes." Later, I met with her for a facial and she told me more about the company. At that time, I wasn't interested in being a representative at all. But I did hold a party and got my skin care for free. My last semester in graduate school, I was taking a course that focused on entrepreneurs. My professor told the class that he wanted one group to do Mary Kay Ash. I turn to my group members and say, "One phone call and I've got all our research." So we did Mary Kay Ash, the founder of the company. After graduating, Laura asked if I might be interested again. She'd not asked me to hear more about the company in about a year and a half. I had moved from being not interested to being slightly more interested, but still not ready to sign up.

I accepted a job with the City of Houston's Water Department. I'd been working there for a year when I was frustrated. I wasn't feeling appreciated and we were working LONG hours. So I emailed Laura. I told her I think I want to do this. She promptly replied back to me asking me to call her at lunchtime. So I did. We talked for almost an hour while I nibbled on my sandwich. Keep in mind that I already loved the products, knew a LOT about the company and Mary Kay in general. Laura now had to address the type of my personality that needed to see why I should do this. She told me to go home and write out a list as to why I should and why I shouldn't sign up. So I did. I was over at my best friend's that night and we chatted and I told her that I was thinking of doing this. She told me I've been wanting to try it, so if you sell it, I'll buy from you. Later that week I was at my mom's. Totally out of the blue, mom told me that I should sell Mary Kay. So my thoughts were, "I've got Mom and I've got my friend. That's two customers. That's more than a lot of people start with. I'm in." So that night I signed my beauty consultant agreement. It's truly been the best $100 I've ever spent.

I can honestly say that I've learned so much about myself since signing up. I've developed a lot more confidence in myself. I've learned to let things roll off of me. I've used my Mary Kay sales to pay for Christmas for the past two years as well as buying a new mattress. Currently I make between $200-$500 a month and that's income that wasn't in my budget. So it helps pay some of my bills and reduces my student loan. I try to pay $100 a month out of my Mary Kay money onto my student loan.

My favorite product:  Timewise Night Solution. It completely cleared up my acne scars.

What do I love about Mary Kay besides the products?  The sisterhood. The friendships. The encouragement. And the prizes.

What has been your favorite prize?  I love my mirrored table lamps

What else should we know?  I'm currently working on building my team and moving into leadership. So I'm looking for team members. The flexibility of the business allows me to work full time, keep up with book reviews, have time for my friends and family all while working my business into my life. There's an hour of time here and a couple of hours there where I can hold appointments and meet with customers.   The cost to start a business is only $100 plus tax and shipping. All training is online and my director (Laura) has helped me each step of the way. We say that we're in business for ourselves but we're not in business by ourselves. The Mary Kay sisterhood offers encouragement and support through every stage.
Left to right: Timewise-Even Complexion mask & essence;
Satin Hands-scrub, Hand Cream, & Hand Softener;
Lash Love Mascara & Eye Makeup Remover

Vera's product review:
I received all the little trial size items pictured above so I could see for myself the quality of Mary Kay products. I love the mascara as it is not too thick or clumpy. The satin hands trio of products really feels good and leaves my hands soft and satiny. It will take a bit of time to see results from the TimeWise products, but I am excited about possibly lightening the spots that have begun to show on my face by using these. Being a lady of-a-certain-age, I need all the help I can get. I have seen lovely ladies who use Mary Kay products through the years and envied them. Now I get a chance to see for myself!

I strictly adhere to the mind-set that it is neither too late nor too early to begin to care for your skin. You do the best you can with the equipment (or products) you have. Access to products of the quality that Mary Kay offers should help ladies to care for their skin.

A mini satin hands set and a small lipstick case with a mini lip gloss is being provided by Dawn Janis for one of Chat With Vera's readers. Just use the Rafflecopter entry form below to enter. Begins July 18 and ENDS August 5 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.
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DISCLOSURE: I was sent the samples to try and review the the Mary Kay representative "Dawn" in exchange for a product review. No compensation was received for this review and posting.  You may purchase the products (shipping of $5.50 plus tax on all orders)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bible Stories Painting Book #2 children's activity book

It is activity time for the kiddies and what are you going to give them to do? They've colored with crayons. They've marked with "markers". They've stacked the stacking blocks.  "Mommy, I want something to do-o-o-o-o-!"

Kregel and Lion Hudson have teamed with Juliet David and Simon Abbot to bring us another kiddie book to delight. This time the kids get to "paint" the pictures of Bible stories starting with Adam and Eve and going through the Old and New Testament.  The text (this is NOT just a painting book) doesn't really tell a whole story, rather it highlights a major event.... "Jacob has given his best-loved son Joseph a wonderful new coat. His brothers are very jealous!"

Now, you're going to have to provide a brush for the kids to use, but the "paints" are included inside the front and back covers which open up to become "palettes." You just have to remember to let the "palettes" dry before you close the painting book.

I can see using the books as a teaching tool to review stories already read in full to the kiddies - always good to have tools that teach. These would be available at book stores and for online purchases.  Now as the title indicates, there is a book #1, too. You might want to grab both.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Kregel for the purpose of my honest review. No compensation was given for this review.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Emblazon" - exciting "Tween" authors' blog launches

Emblazon is a blog written by a collection of indie authors who care about producing high quality stories for kids. We have a particular focus on ages 11 to 14. We call them Tweens. The purpose of Emblazon is to celebrate tween literature. We want to draw attention to this fabulous genre, interact with other enthusiasts whether child or adult, and encourage new writers.

Emblazon launches its first post on July 10.

Sizzling Freebies bash that will be hosted on Emblazon on August 1 during which a great selection of ebooks will be free for one day only.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ashton Park: The Danforths of Lancashire by Murray Pura

ISBN:  9780736952859
Paperback $13.99
Harvest House Publishers
In Ashton Park the author, Murray Pura, takes us into the lives of the family of Sir William Danforth and Lady Elizabeth Danforth at the beginning of World War I. The airplane is brand new and a major tool in the war conflict. The class system in England is still in place in that among the wealthy and elite the servants and upper class do not mingle except as master and servant.

Sir William is a devout protestant in a land that still strongly remembers the conflict between Catholicism and protestant. Sir William even contents that Baptist are a cult and will have none of it in his household. He is a kind, loving, and strong head of house and he also is a leader in the English ruling system.

But things are changing everywhere. The war. The Irish uprising and on-going war between Irish and English. The class struggle. The internal struggle of family members.

Once the reader straightens out the large number of characters (it is a large family) and discovers the various plot lines, the reading becomes more engaging enjoyable. As usual Murray Pura has a well-written historical novel populated with a variety of believable characters (the well-to-do and the below-stairs folks) and historical color and facts to bring the reader a good book to enjoy.  Fluff that isn't fluffy. Fact that isn't too precise. Just a good read. Thanks Mr. Pura and I look forward to more.

About the author: Murray Pura was born and raised in Manitoba, just north of Minnesota and the Dakotas. He has published several novels and short story collections in Canada, and has been short-listed for a number of awards. His first books to be published in the United States are the inspirational works Rooted and Streams (both by Zondervan in 2010). His first novel to debut in the USA is A Bride’s Flight from Virginia City, Montana (Barbour), which was released January 2012. The second, The Wings of Morning, will be published by Harvest House on February 1. Both of these novels center around the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ferdinand Fox's First Summer by Mary Holland (Review & Giveaway)

There is no doubt about it, kits (baby and young foxes) are adorable and the photographer has captured them in their native habitat as the beautiful creatures they are. Ferdinand is just one baby in a liter. He begins his adventure of growing up and learning to hunt to eat.  There is a saying, "Play is the work of children." Well, I would say that "Play is the work of foxes," too. That is how they learn to pounce, leap, capture, and find food. They first of all play aggressively with each other.

When their mother refuses to let them nurse, they get hungry and realize they are to find their own food. Thus is the cycle. They are born, learn, grow, hunt, leave and then it begins again with a new liter that Ferdinand and the other young adult foxes have.

There is some very interesting material at the back of the book for inquisitive learners. Facts about the Red Fox. What they eat, etc. This is an educational picture book.

GIVEAWAY: Enter to win one copy of Animal Helpers Sanctuaries and one copy of Ferndinand Fox's First Summer provided by SylvanDell Publishing for one of Chat With Vera's readers. Begins July 5 & ENDS July 22 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Ferdinand Fox's First Summer  was provided by Sylvan Dell Publishers in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence" by Jane Cook

Book Description:  American Phoenix tells the gripping story of John Quincy Adams’s “honorable exile” during the War of 1812 and the harrowing journey of his wife, Louisa, to be reunited with her family.

American diplomat John Quincy Adams and his wife, Louisa, had two things in common with the audacious Napoleon Bonaparte—speaking perfect French and living in exile. American Phoenix reveals the untold true story of Quincy’s unexpected nomination as the top US envoy to Russia in 1809, and Louisa’s agony at being forced to leave their six- and eight-year old boys behind in Boston. Believing that ambition can never repay such sacrifice, she clings to the hope of reuniting with her sons in a year. Pretention, royal dissipation, extreme weather, covert political maneuvers, French interference, private tragedy, and two great wars trap them in St. Petersburg longer than their worst fears. Their personal story is soon swept into the public drama of Napoleon’s war with Russia and America’s war with Great Britain, which ultimately force John Quincy and Louisa to live apart. When Napoleon escapes his exile, his march to reclaim Paris threatens to forever separate John Quincy and Louisa from each other and their children back home.

American Phoenix uncovers the challenges, fears, sorrows, joys, triumphs, and faith that come when life—no matter the era—takes an unexpected journey.
Review:  The American Phoenix is a book about John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812,and the Exile that saved American Independence. The story includes many excerpts from the diaries and letters of  John and Louisa Adams. It gives a unique perspective from a woman's viewpoint during an important time in our country's history. 

Louisa Adams sacrificed just as much, if not more for our country than her husband. Jane Hampton Cook makes the story and the period of history it entails come alive for the reader. You can almost feel the raw emotions of John and Louisa Adams during each of their experiences, whether exuberant or melancholy. 

Cook artfully describes the weather in Russia, the struggles of sailing from Boston to Russia, and even the fear that each character must overcome in order to survive the long years in Russia and away from their beloved family. The plight of John Quincy and Louisa Adams as they with very limited financial assets and means co-mingled and represented the newly independent nation, America, amongst the wealthy and aristocratic societies of Russia and France and their struggle to appear to have more financial means to spend on clothes and entertainment. 

The War of 1812 is presented as crucial to our nation's gaining recognition among the nations of the world as a force capable of defending itself and as an international trade entity. American Phoenix is a must read! (rev. M.Godley and. V.Godley)

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of American Phoenix: John Quincy and Louisa Adams, the War of 1812, and the Exile that Saved American Independence for the purpose of review from BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing.  Opinions expressed are those of the reviewer.

I'm proud to be an American.....

I was wondering what to post here on Chat With Vera to say "I love America!" that wouldn't be trite sounding. But when I saw this image I recalled how much this song, and other American patriotic songs have meant to me through the years. I thought, "That's it!"

Animal Helpers Sanctuaries by Jennifer Keats Curtis (Review & Giveaway)

This educational picture book is beautifully illustrated with photographs of a variety of exotic animals that have been kept as pets and in a various "zoo" type confines. These animals are not intended to be pets and become dangerous and hard to care for. They also can become ill or injured and need care.

Conservationists have established a variety of sanctuaries designed to house these wild creatures and protect them. Most can not be placed back into the wild but are in need of care and protection.

The book is not designed to entertain. It is designed to educate. After telling the story of sanctuaries for wild animals, there is a section for "Creative Minds" in the back of the book with activities to help the child learn more about exotic animals and their needs.

GIVEAWAY: Enter to win one copy of Animal Helpers Sanctuaries and one copy of Ferndinand Fox's First Summer provided by SylvanDell Publishing for one of Chat With Vera's readers. Begins July 5 & ENDS July 22 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Animal Helpers Sanctuaries was provided by Sylvan Dell Publishers in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Visit to Muir Woods National Park

It is difficult to comprehend that something, anything could live 500, 800, 1000, or even 2000 years. Yet, there are majestic trees that are just that - long-living and beautiful in their majesty.

My daughter, my son, and I had the privilege to visit the Muir Woods National Park near San Francisco, CA in June. It is hard to imagine this beauty in nature so close to a large city where life in the fast lane is the order of the day. But the order of the day for us on this day and in this place was to navigate the mega-traffic, cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and soon be in the quiet of a natural cathedral. A Cathedral whose supporting beams were interconnected with foilage that shaded us and the ground below.

A hushed quiet permeated the forest and especially this area where caretakers had respectfully requested prayerful quiet in the area.

We saw a deer within three feet of us nibbling on leaves and watching us as we (foot travelers such as ourselves) likewise watched him. He was not afraid and we were thrilled.

We walked the protected trail that was relatively flat. I can only dream of the scenes we could have beheld had we been physically able to actually traverse the hilly protected trail.  The trails that human visitors were permitted to use were created there to protect the natural beauty.

All too soon we had to leave. Leave the quiet. Leave the peace. Leave the cool. Leave the beauty. And leave the majesty of what God had created and man has miraculously preserved.
Redwoods grow nearly 400 feet tall. "The oldest confirmed redwood tree is at least 2,200 years of age, but foresters believe that some may be much older!"  They are the tallest trees. Facts about the Redwoods"Coast redwoods are able to grow from only a seed to 100 feet tall in only 50 years! Some of these trees can grow 6 whole feet in only one year.  The average diameter of the largest living coast redwood is over 20 feet!"

Pictures taken by my son with his phone. 

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