Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blood Moons Rising: Biblical Prophecy, Israel, and the Four Blood Moons by Mark Hitchcock

ISBN: 9781414397085
Tyndale House Publishers
My thoughts:  When I first saw Blood Moons Rising offered as a book to review, I really thought it was an end-time novel. I had never heard about the blood moons, though I had heard about the moon turning to blood as an end sign. But I am neither a theologian nor a Biblical scholar and am not even well versed in debating or discussing Biblical prophecy. I’m just a lady that has attended church all her life and heard some really good preaching. I am a Christian and I take my Christianity seriously. So when I received the book and saw that it was a non-fiction treatise by Mark Hitchcock on the subject of the four Blood Moons and the theory of blood moons previously and prophetically affecting the Jewish peoples, I decided to do a bit of research prior to delving into the pages of Blood Moons Rising.

As I found in my own research and saw in Mr. Hitchcock’s book, there is theory that John Hagee adheres to based on the premise that since these blood moons centuries ago occurred when major events also occurred impacting the Jewish peoples, that during the years 2014-15 when there would be four of the blood moons occurring the events would serve as a sign of end times.  Mr. Hitchcock disagrees with the reading of signs into these occurrences. Mr. Hitchcock also disputes the methods of interpretation used by these theorists.

Blood Moons Rising is not a heavy read, but it certainly is not light reading either. I believe Mr. Hitchcock has stated it concisely in this statement referring to Mr. Hagee and other theroists …. “speculation and a misinterpretation of Scripture.”  We are to be careful in our interpretation of the Bible and especially in assigning signs in the sky and earth as prophetic to the coming of Christ and the end of time.

Points of interest:
  • John Hagee published a book called "Four Blood Moons: Something Is About to Change," which suggesta a link between the new lunar tetrad and a biblical prophecy about the apocalypse.
  • Joel 2:31 KJV states: "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."
  • Revelations 6:12: "There was a great earthquake. The Sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair. The whole Moon turned blood red."
  • Tetrad dates coincide with Passover (April 15, 2014 and April 4, 2015) and the Jewish observance of Sukkot (Oct. 8, 2014 and Sept. 28, 2015)

DISCLOSURE:  I received a complimentary copy of Blood Moons Rising: Biblical Prophecy, Israel, and the Four Blood Moons from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review.  Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

Blood Moons Rising

Status: Requested

Tour Dates: 01/28 - 03/03

Estimated Ship Date: 03/04/14

- See more at:

Blood Moons Rising

Status: Requested

Tour Dates: 01/28 - 03/03

Estimated Ship Date: 03/04/14

- See more at:

Speaking of birthdays and of Muir Glen Canned Tomato Products

You know, there is something to be said about having birthdays and getting older. Some folks dread them because they are getting older. Some folks anticipate them with joy because they have lots of birthday fun. Frankly, I don't know what category I actually fall into.

3 Wonderful cans of Muir Glen Organic Tomatoes
Seems my birthdays are not something I dread, though I've reached the Biblical 3 score and 10 plus a few. They are just days that happen and they happen to be mile-markers. Hopefully, I've grown a bit wiser as the years have passed. I know I've grown more experienced and learned to appreciate a new day more than in previous years.

This year, I had a nice surprise from the folks at Muir Glen. I've been an unpaid product reviewer (here on Chat With Vera) for them for awhile and it has been a joy to do so. Now what these good folks did is send me a box of goodies and here are the pictures. A picture says much more and usually much better than a bunch of words. So let's see what the camera shows you.....

Beef and tomatoes dish and rice
I decided to use the Fire Roasted tomatoes in a "made up" dish. I had a lovely beef rump roast and wanted to do something different with the left overs. This is a beautifully lean cut of beef. I cubed the cold meat and set it aside. Then I used my Cuisinart Crockpot that sautes and sauteed a green bell pepper and sweet onion in a little olive oil. When it was a bit caramelized.

Here is a close up of the meat dish. No, it isn't a "soup" but it does have this nice and rich sauce that just makes itself.

And one more look at my lovely package. See the tote bag and dish towel? Isn't life good.

DISCLOSURE: I received the above pictured items from Muir Glen as a surprise and there was no
expectation for a review. Opinions and comments are solely my own unsolicited and no compensation received.

How God Grows a Woman of Wisdom – A Devotional by Anita Higman and Marian Leslie

ISBN-13: 9781624168338
About the book:  This lovely devotional collection offers a powerful blend of inspiration, encouragement, and motivation for every area of your life.  Touching on topics like beauty, blessings, conversation, joy, patience, prayer, relationships, work, and more, you will find yourself drawn ever closer to your heavenly Father as you meditate on each reading and open your heart and mind to God’s Word.

Review:  How God Grows a Woman of Wisdom is the first release in a brand-new devotional series.  It is a simple, easy to read devotional book with over 200 devotions included.  While the size of the book would prevent you from calling it a “pocket book”, it definitely is one that you could take with you to read along your daily journey.  Each devotional is short enough that it can be read in just 3-5 minutes.  The other aspect that I like about the book is that the devotionals are not tied to a specific date.  So, you can just open the book and start reading.  

“How God Grows a Woman of Wisdom” would make an excellent gift book for a mature Christian and also a new believer.  (rev. P.Howard, Pastor's Wife)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by the author in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wind Dancer by Chris Platt (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN:  9781561457366
About the book:  Ali McCormick used to love horses. But then she and her beloved pony Max were in an accident; Ali was injured, Max died, and Ali's brother Danny, who caused the accident, joined the military. Now Danny has returned from Afghanistan, injured and traumatized. He's learning to walk with the prosthetic that has replaced one of his legs, but he can't seem to find a way to reconnect with family and friends. Withdrawn and quick to anger, Danny suffers from terrible nightmares and frightening mood changes.

When Ali and her friend Cara realize that an elderly neighbor has been neglecting her horses, they decide they have to act. Little does Ali realize that she'll end up having to help care for these two horses, who are starved and suffering from malnutrition. Can Ali rise above her painful memories and love a horse again? And can Wind Dancer, also injured and traumatized, help Danny find meaning in his life again?

My thoughts: Children seem to be fascinated with horses and middle schoolers love to have the opportunity to ride horses. In Wind Dancer, the heroin, Ali, has an accident involving her horse and the horse has to be put down. Thereafter, Ali doesn’t care be with horses.

However, an opportunity arises where she works with terribly abused horses.  Ali's compassionate nature comes to the forefront as she begins to aid in the rescue and care of these abused horses. Ali also has an opportunity to work with horses to help soldiers returning from war suffering from PSTD. A program involving horses is used to help them through this.

This is a short book just right for middle readers about a subject (horses) they will enjoy. Readers will also gain knowledge of post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) and care and recovery of abused or traumatized animals. They will learn, too, how Ali learns to cope with her own feelings.

The reading is not so deep as to discourage young readers but engaging enough to capture their attention.  

GIVEAWAY:  Peachtree Publishers has graciously provided a giveaway copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to vie for. Just use the Rafflecopter form below and soon one reader will have their very own copy. Begins April 29 & ENDS May 20 @ 12:01 a.m EDT. Open for USA mailing addresses only.
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DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Peachtree Publishers in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Pansy in Paris: A Mystery at the Museum by Cynthia Bardes, illustrated by Virginia Best

About the book:  Pansy, the poodle who lives at the Palace Hotel in Beverly Hills and Avery, the little girl who adopted her, are off on a new adventure in Pansy in Paris. The two travel to the City of Lights to solve a new mystery: who is stealing paintings from the museum? With only one clue and their boundless curiosity, the two follow the trail, foil the thieves, and recover the missing artwork having great fun as they explore a beautiful new city and enjoy its treasures. Pansy and Avery learn about the joy of travel, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the special pleasure of teamwork."

My thoughts:  Cynthia Bardes wrote her first “Pansy” book based on her lovely, lively toy poodle. The title is Pansy at the Palace: A Beverly Hills Mystery which I reviewed here on Chat With Vera. I was delighted to see she has written the second in this young children’s series of mysteries involving the little poodle, Pansy.

Pansy’s fame for solving the Palace mystery has become international! The French have sent a letter requesting Pansy’s services in solving the case of the missing portraits. So Avery shows the letter to her mother who decides it is time to travel a bit. Then Avery, Mother, and Pansy board a plane and fly to Paris!

They are met by the inspector (French police) who tells them about the case and shows them where it occurred. They gist of the story is that Pansy again comes to the rescue in solving the case of the trice missing portraits.

Another delightful animal book for young children and this one has a touch of mystery.  Beautifully illustrated by Virginia Best in the same ink and water color artwork that captures the sweet expressions of Pansy and Avery as well as the atmosphere of Paris.

I am delighted to be able to share this lovely book with my granddaughter, Avery, who has her very own miniature Labradoodle (kind of a poodle doggie). She loved book one and I know she will love this one, too.
GIVEAWAY:  The author is graciously providing one of Chat With Vera's readers a copy of their very own. Just use the Rafflecopter form below for your entries. Begins April 29 and ENDS May 20@ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.
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About the author:  Cynthia Bardes and her husband, David, spend each fall at a Bevery Hills hotel with their toy poodle, Pansy. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, Cynthia is a former dress designer and interior decorator. When not in Los Angeles, Cynthia and her husband, and Pansy, live in Vero Beach, Florida. Further information is available online at:

Monday, April 28, 2014

Defy the Night by Heather Munn and Lydia Munn

About the book: In the midst of war, one teenager is determined to make a difference.

If no one will do anything, she'll have to do it herself.

In 1941 France is still "free." But fifteen-year-old Magali is frustrated by the cruel irony of pretending life is normal when food is rationed, new clothes are a rarity, and most of her friends are refugees. And now the government is actually helping the Nazis. Someone has got to do something, but it seems like no one has the guts--until Paquerette arrives.

Smuggling refugee children is Paquerette's job. And she asks Magali to help.

Working with Paquerette is scary and exhausting, but Magali never doubts that it is the right thing to do. Until her brash actions put those she loves in danger.

My thoughts: In Defy the Night the reader experiences World War II though the lens of a 15-year-old girl living in France. It is 1941 and Germany is pursuing its goal of becoming the master conquerer.  Magali is a young 15 year old that experiences inner anger, turmoil, rebellion, and down-right contrariness. Most of these feelings she manages to keep inside herself, but it is known by all the adults around her that Magali needs to grow up or mature.

There is a movement afoot where an organization is managing to enter the internment camps in which the Germans have placed “refugees” (gypsies, Jews, etc.) to remove the “orphans.” This is very dangerous work, but for some reason it is being allowed by the Germans. Magali wants to be part of this heroic effort and thinks she is mature enough to do so. She gets her opportunity.

She enters the camp unprepared for the stark reality of fences, barbed wire, mean looking guards with guns, animalistic behavior of children over scraps of food, sick and destitute people, dirt, stink and more horror that she ever imagined. Then to travel with a group of near death babies and young children nearly broke her spirit.

The darkness of the night that World War II brought to Europe is raw, hard to bear, unbelievably stark. But the efforts of the heroes that saved the children from this darkness is brilliant defiance that truly defied the night. It brought light to those in darkness. It brought escape. It brought hope.

This is a coming of age novel and it is not an easy read. The reader will be transported mentally to the character’s despair and courage. To their hope and hopelessness. To the joy of seeing deathly ill babies experience life renewal.

The story is fiction but is based on records and true accounts from agencies from France, Switzerland, and the United States that were involved in the rescue of children during this time of night and evil. The true nature of the Holocaust was not yet fully recognized at this point in history. It was yet to come. But conditions were still atrocious and inhumane.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Defy the Night from Kregel Publications in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Critical Condition by Richard L. Mabry, M.D. (Review and Giveaway)

ISBN: 9781401687403
About the book:  Dr. Frasier couldn't save the gunshot victim on her front lawn. Now she's fighting for her own life.

It began as a quiet dinner party honoring Dr. Shannon Frasier's colleague, but became a nightmare when a man was shot on her lawn, reviving emotions from a similar episode a decade ago. Then a midnight call from her sister, Megan, causes Shannon to fear that her sister is on drugs again.

Her "almost-fiancé" Dr. Mark Gilbert's support only adds to Shannon's feelings of guilt, since she can't bring herself to fully commit to him. She turns for help to her pastor-father, only to learn that he's just been diagnosed with leukemia.

Shannon thought it couldn't get any worse. Then the late-night, threatening phone calls begin, the rough voice asking, "What did he say before he died?"

With everything around her in a critical state, simply staying alive will require all the resources and focus Shannon has.

My thoughts:  Just when Dr. Shannon Fraiser thinks she can get her life back on a normal track and begin to love again, tragedy hits on her front lawn. It recalls to her fragile emotions  her history when ten years prior her fiancé died in her arms from a gunshot. 

But it seems the talented and bright Dr. Fraiser is destined to be tested and tried in a multitude of ways in the upcoming days and weeks. The shooting on her front lawn doesn’t seem random. She learns her father has cancer. Her wayward sister moves in with her. And then Dr. Fraiser is exposed to the deadly HIV. 

How much can a person endure? How much can their faith be challenged?  How much can the relationship between Shannon and Mark take?

This is a medical suspense. There are bits and pieces of medical jargon and scenes, but this is not an in-your-face ER or Hospital Drama! Written by a retired physician, it rings true to life and professionalism. Dr. Mabry handles the emotional drama with a delicate, yet descriptive and true to life realism. 

I’ve reviewed several of Dr. Mabry’s medical suspense novels and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. They are each different and enjoyable on different levels. This is well written Christian fiction bringing plot and character development to the pages of a frankly good read.

GIVEAWAY:  Litfuse Publicity Group is providing a copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win in a giveaway. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Begins April 25 & ENDS May 16 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open for USA addresses only.
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Learn more about Dr. Mabry: Click Here I have reviewed two books of Dr. Mabry's: 1) Heart Failure and 2) Stress Test

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Critical Condition from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Thomas Nelson and the author, Richard L. Mabry, M.D. in exchange or my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Food Should Taste Good® Pita Puffs - New Product Review

What a delight I found left on my porch by the delivery people! It was a surprise and I am so delighted. I absolutely love the "Food Should Taste Good®" products and these great folks have sent me a box of their newer goodies.
These tasty snacks have a really long name...... FOOD SHOULD TASTE GOOD®. Well, that is a profound statement and yet it is truly an understatement. Mankind loves to eat and loves to have good tasting food to eat. So it stands to reason that we want our food to TASTE GOOD! Right? Right!

If you have not YET discovered the goodies these folks have created from simple ingredients, then you have to get with the program, folks. Go grab a bag of their blue chips or their sweet potato chips. Then while you're at it, see if you can find this new kid on the block - The New Food Should Taste Good® PITA PUFFS.

Now just what was in this box of goodies sitting on my front porch? The Pita Puffs come in 4 flavors and there was one of each! Yummy! My hubby and I are set to munch and crunch our way through these bags. Let's look at the ingredients for the Pita Puffs Chive crunchy goodies.  Lots of good grains, chives, olive oil, and a touch of sweetness with molasses. Did you realize that FSTG doesn't use any GMO in their products? Well, I consider that a real plus.

Food Should Taste Good® is currently getting third-party verification of their GMO status products.  

My thoughts on the new Pita Puffs . . . .  Well, they are light, airy, flavorable. The crunch is a light, crispy-crunch and not a hard, crack-your-jaw crunch. It would probably be difficult for some who like to sit 'n much not to simply devour the whole bag. I like them. But I think they might not be my most favorite of the Food Should Taste Good® products. But we all have favorites, don't we. 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary package of  Food Should Taste Good® Pita Puffs containing 4 bags. I was not required to write a review and especially not expected to review the products positively. Opinions expressed are solely my own. Product information if gleaned from the product website.

"Claude at the Beach" by Alex T. Smith (Review and Giveaway)

  • Hardcover: $12.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-703-8
  • Total Pages: 96
  • Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/8
About the book:  Claude at the Beach is an early reader, illustrated novel.  Grades 2-4. In the third installment of Claude’s hilarious adventures, Claude and Sir Bobblysock pack their bags and go on vacation to the beach. They rescue a man from a shark, win a sandcastle-building competition, and hunt for pirate treasure. Of course, they make it back home just before Mr. and Mrs. Shineyshoes come in from work.

My thoughts:  Claude at the Beach is the third book by author and illustrator Alex T. Smith. Mr. Smith has created a character I foresee as becoming a classic in time. Claude is a cute dog (probably with a somewhat quirky international flavor and character) and his side kick is a striped sock – Sir Bobblysock (think “bobby socks”).

In this, book three, the twosome wait their for their people to depart for the day, which they do right on time. Then Claude declares it is time for a vacation. So they begin to pack.

The story progresses with their arrival at the beach which is the perfect spot for them to vacation and definitely the spot for Claude to use the underwear he has packed since everyone at the beach is in their undies.

As escapade upon escapade unfolds, we are entertained by the delightful text and sophisticated cartoon art style used to illustrate Claude’s activities. Mr. Smith’s illustrations envelope both the story and tongue-in-cheek humor that the adults reading the story will “get.”

There are some enchanting qualities and items in the story. For example, Claude’s beret. He finds many useful items tucked up under his beret with which to save the day or just plain put to use.

This is an early chapter book written for kids age 7-11 who enjoy laughing. But of course, parents are allowed to read it, too, and get their tickle on.

GIVEAWAY:  The good folks at Peachtree Publishing believe in children's books, children reading, sharing, and a good laugh. So they are going to delight one of Chat With Vera's readers (or some special child of yours) the joy of owning your very own copy of Claude at the Beach. Begins April 23 & ENDS May 14 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.
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DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Claude at the Beach was provided in exchange for my honest review. This is part of a scheduled blog tour sponsored by Peachtree Publishers to promote the April 2014 launch of the book. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Caught in the Middle by Regina Jennings

About the book:  The train to Garber, Texas, is supposed to bring life's next victory to Nicholas Lovelace. Instead, it gets held up by robbers who are thwarted by the last person Nick ever expected--Anne Tillerton from back home in Prairie Lea.

Anne's been hiding away as a buffalo hunter. She's only in town to find their runaway cook, but the woman flees--leaving Anne with her infant son. With Nick the only person Anne knows in town, the two form an unlikely team as they try to figure out what to do with the child.

But being in town means acting and dressing for polite society--and it's not going well for Anne. Meanwhile, Nick's work is bringing new pressures, and being seen with a rough-around-the-edges woman isn't helping his reputation. Caught between their own dreams, a deepening relationship, and others' expectations, can the pair find their way to love?

My thoughts:  Just looking at the cover, one would think (I did, anyway) that this was going to be one of those youthful, girly (maybe even silly), books featuring a young girl who wanted to be a rough and tumble cowgirl (see the boots peeking out from under the frilly dress) but was forced by society and circumstances and who she was to wear that frilly dress. However, the book is not about a story line of that ilk.

The story has surprising intensity and depth. It deals with subjects and consequences of the actions of cruel and hateful individuals on the subsequent lives of their victims. The depth of emotion and burden carried by the characters whose past life is so impacting their current existence is daunting.
The sweet romance that blossoms between Anne and Nicholas is lovely. The end is somewhat predictable in that boy gets girl, good conquers over evil, wrongs are righted. But none-the-less, the outcome is totally enjoyable and a refreshing relief. Readers will fall in love with the sweet little older lady that takes Anne under her wing. Readers will also feel the intensity of care of the characters toward the little boy abandoned by his biological mother. 

A bit of history:  In reading the book, there is an infant, deserted by his mother, and he is being fed a powdered "Nestlé" formula. The book is set in 1881. Not knowing the history of the Nestlé company and the beginning of the production of powdered infant "milk" or formula, I doubted that this part of the story had true historical significance and that it was just written in as though there was actually powdered formula in 1881. It bothered me because even if I'm reading a novel, if it is historical fiction, I want the history to be right. So I "Googled" "History of Nestlé Powdered Infant Formula." Of course, there is a lot about Nestlé and Infant Formula on the web. Finally, I found a bit of information and here is the link:  Click Here. And yes, the author had done her homework. There was powdered infant formula produced by Nestlé in 1881
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Caught in the Middle from the Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Company in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He Is Risen Indeed!

To me, Easter – or preferably – Resurrection Sunday, is the most important day on the Christian’s calendar. This is a day when we as Christians specifically remember the depth of depravity that drove the need for Christ to suffer and die for our sins. Christ was willing to lay down His perfect life so that we could be redeemed.

But the wonder doesn’t cease with the death of the Son of God hanging on a wooden cross. No the wonder is that He Is Risen! Yes! He Is risen as He said!

The tomb was found empty by Mary when she came early on Resurrection Day to anoint His body as was the custom of the Jews. But He was not there.

So Mary ran! She ran not in fear but in astonishment and in joy. She ran to share the good news that Christ is Risen!

So I share it with you today. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Quincy and Buck (Quincy) by Camille Matthews with illustrations by Michelle Black (Review and E-Book Giveaway)

Age Range: 5 - 7 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten - 2
Series: Quincy the Horse Books
Publisher: Pathfinder Equine Publications
ISBN-13: 978-0981924045

My thoughts:  There is just something special about a book about horses that seems to capture the attention and love of children. Well, others, too, but especially children.  This book about a horse named Quincy is a gently told story of how the horse is afraid of the dessert and what he will face there. So because of his fear, his opportunity to ride the trail – which is in the dessert – is limited. And Quincy does love to get out and ride.

Quincy’s best friend, Beau, another quarter horse whose stall is next to Quincy’s, isn’t afraid and gets to ride the trail. Beau encourages Quincy to face his fears. Quincy gets the opportunity to do just that when his owner and another lady bring Buck to go together on a ride. So instead of choosing Beau to go, Quincy is chosen.   Quincy soon has a different challenge because Buck is a bully. As the story unfolds, Quincy deals with his fears and copes with Buck’s bullying tactics. He also learns that even a bully has fears.

This gentle story is filled with lovely paintings depicting the horses. The horses are particularly well done, in my opinion.

I would say this is a good book for various libraries because it is a good, enjoyable and educational book for young children or for you to gift that special child in your life.
About Quincy and Quincy's "people." Author Camille Matthews was born in Lexington, KY and now lives near Reading, PA. She is a clinical social worker, equestrian, and equine assisted growth and learning specialist. The real Quincy, whose early experiences inspired the stories, is an American quarter horse. Now 24 years old, he is still working with Matthews as part of the equine therapy team. Michelle Black is an artist residing in La Plata, NM.
GIVEAWAY: The author is giving one of Chat With Vera's readers an E-Book copy of Quincy and Buck. Begins April 19 & ENDS May 5 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
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DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided to me by the author in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. The e-book giveaway copy is provided to the winner by the author.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ozeri Serafino Double Wall Insulated Beverage and Coffee Glasses

Product information:

  • Set of 4 heat and shatter resistant borosilicate glasses that each hold 12 oz.
  • Stronger and more durable than common glass, each glass features a wraparound contour that provides a natural aesthetic grip
  • Patent-pending double wall design that suspends drinks within an inner wall, creating an engaging optical effect
  • Designed to keep your hands cool with hot drinks and free of condensation with chilled beverages
  • Completely, microwave and freezer safe; Ships in an elegant 4 color printed box with a 1 Year Warranty; Satisfaction Guaranteed
    (This information taken from product as posted on
My thoughts: The vision of amber hot tea visible through crystal clear glass is beautiful. Being able to actually hold and drink from a cup holding that hot tea is another thing entirely. The heat would penetrate the glass making it difficult to hold, unless it had a handle that did not transfer the heat to your hands. Even the mouth of the glass container touching your lips would perhaps been too hot. But it is a beautiful picture, is it not?

With the Ozeri Serafino double Wall Insulated Beverage and Coffee Glasses you can have that beauty and enjoy sipping the hot tea to your heart's content because of the insulated nature of the glasses. Double layered glass provides the insulation.

The same is true of cold beverages. You can use these glasses without fear of condensation on the outside making them messy to hold and even devastating to your furniture by leaving water rims. Here in the hot humid South, condensation when in the open humid air is a very real problem.

As I used the glasses for the past couple of weeks, I noticed that you could "feel" some warmth and some chill through the glasses, but it was a good, comfortable feel. So that is a plus.

These are hand blown glass and as such are not your ordinary factory produced sturdy, high impact glass.  Well, glass being glass tends to break any way you drop it or crack it (puns are definitely intended here, so be patient with me). But hand blown is definitely more fragile.  While I haven't broken a single glass out of the set of 4, 12 oz. glasses or set of 2, 16 oz. glasses, I have to respect the fact that these are fragile.

Now what do I actually think of the glasses? Well, for starters they are definitely pricey coming close to $10 per glass on For some that is not an issue, but for the average household it could be a problem. A cabinet full of these might break the bank (another pun intended). But if you have the money and want the benefits of the glasses, go for it!

The glasses have a nice shape that fits beautifully in the hand making them comfortable to use. Being two-layered with air in between, they tend to be a bit bulky for the ounces they hold, but that again is a matter of preference. 

Do I like them? Sure. But would I purchase a cabinet full for daily use, probably not since it would definitely break the budget (another one of those intended puns).  They are lovely and impressive.
 DISCLOSURE: I received these glasses from Ozeri in exchange for my honest review. Opinions are solely my own. Product information is taken from product websites. I received no compensation for this review and was under no obligation to report favorably on the product.

The Adventures of Bella and Harry: Visit Barcelona..... Visit Venice..... Visit Rome... (Review and Giveaway)

The world is a big place and full of cultural diversity and interesting sights to see. Children need to learn about this wondrous world - the civilizations, the history, the peoples, the climates, the geography, and the food. Well, author, Lisa Manzione and illustrator, Kristine Lucco will bring the world to your door step courtesy of Bella and Harry.

About the series: The Adventures of Bella & Harry is a picture book series that chronicles the escapades of a pup named Bella, her little brother Harry and their family, who travel the world exploring the sights and sounds of new, exciting cities. The “Bella & Harry” series is intended to be an informative, interactive and exciting way to introduce children to travel, different countries, customs, history and landmarks with the educational value of this book cleverly disguised amidst dozens of illustrated pages which are sure to win the hearts of young readers.

First stop today is Venice:  

I think “Let’s Visit Venice” is probably my favorite of all the Adventures of Bella & Harry books. I simply love the illustrations and the story line. There is so much to explore and the two Chihuahua siblings and “their children” explore it all.

The factoids are explained satisfactorily for the young age group for which the book is intended. The illustrations, bright, bold, and definitive are entertaining as well since they capture the essence of the two little dogs.

This entertaining and educational book does a good job of introducing the reader to Italy and hence Venice and all that the lovely, historic city encompasses. Not too much information, but enough.

Next stop is Rome! 

In “Let’s Visit Rome” we are still in Europe and specifically still in Italy.  Italy is so packed with significant history, that Bella and Harry are bound to learn a lot as well as “their children.”  The story begins with Harry dressed as and pretending to be a gladiator. Then we get a picture and some factoids about Roman gladiators from long-ago history.

Bella and Harry visit the famous Roman buildings and areas such as the Colosseum and  Palatine Hill that overlooks the Roman Forum.

But Rome is not all history. It is today and today’s food.  There is also the Trevi Fountain in which they splashed a bit.

This is another in the enjoyable series of Adventures of Bella and Harry books and filled with entertaining goodies.

But there are more places to visit today and next we're going to go to...Barcelona: 

Just as Rome and Venice are in Italy and part of Europe, Barcelona is in Spain and is part of Europe. Barcelona sits on the edge of Spain bounded by the Mediterranean. Keep in mind that Italy is a “boot” and surrounded by the Mediterranean. So Rome, Venice, and Barcelona are all situated in fairly close to each other.

In Bella and Harry’s visit to Barcelona, they first of all encounter some of the art of the city and the famous church, Sagrada Familia.

The illustrations of the Barcelona book are vivid and strong as usual for Bella and Harry books, but they seem to have a type of surrealism.   As in all of the Bella and Harry books, there is a list of words using the language of the city/country and the English equivalent.

As Chat With Vera's readers already know, I love it when a young child's book is entertaining as well as educational. There is such a dearth of instruction in the schools and text books today, that children are not gaining knowledge of the world in which they live, where countries are located, what country is neighbor to another, what the cultural aspects of the population is, what the land mass is, and if it is dissected by rivers or surrounded by water. It is sad. But there are some books on the market that you can use to enlighten and bring the world home to your special child. Recently, I reviewed some books that are a great introduction to social studies and cultures. Then I also reviewed two very large books of maps (or atlas) featuring pictures of the history, peoples, animals, land formations, etc. Chat With Vera wants children to learn about their world.

Now to travel with Bella & Harry ... got your passport?

Each of these books is beautifully printed in bold colors and hardbound. They have a map that positions the city you're visiting. You learn about the famous buildings, rivers. You see what they eat, what they wear. There are a few words in the back in the language of that city/country with their meaning. And the illustrations are a real joy.

GIVEAWAY: This will make a wonderful gift for that special child in your life. Use the Rafflecopter entry form and let's see who can win a living room-travel-set for a child. All 3 of these books to one winner! Begins April 18  & ENDS May 19 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Open to USA mainland addresses only.
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About the author & illustrator: Lisa Manzione, Author
- The Bella and Harry series of children's books is Lisa Manzione's first foray into children's fiction writing. As a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), Lisa's entrance into the field of literature is one she has eagerly awaited and is very passionate about.

The series was developed with the hope of inspiring young readers to embrace the world and encourage its exploration. Done through the comedic and informative adventures of Bella and Harry, while traveling through various countries, Lisa hopes to stimulate children's imaginations and foster a thirst for understanding the world in which they live

Kristen Lucco, Illustrator - Born in rural Pennsylvania, Kristine's passion for art began at a young age. This interest in art continued and ultimately led Kristine to study at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

Her talent was quickly recognized as extraordinary by local designers and today, over 20 years later, Kristine's art and designs adorn walls and a myriad of other surfaces all over south Florida.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Beneath the Sun" by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Constance Bergum (Review and Giveaway)

ISBN: 978-1-56145-733-5
Hardcover $16.95
About the book:  This lyrical tour of a variety of habitats offers young readers vivid glimpses of animals as they live out the hot season under the blazing sun.

Journey from your neighborhood to a field where an earthworm loops its long body into a ball underground, and to a desert where a jackrabbit loses heat through its oversized ears. Beneath the Sun shows readers how animals survive the hottest time of the year.

My thoughts:  Illustrated with soft water colors and soft, yet definitive lines, Beneath the Sun captures the essence of life underneath the hot summer sun for life on Planet Earth. Whether it is the spittlebug staying safe from enemies and the sizzling rays of the sun underneath it's milky white goo of bubbly froth or animals hiding in the shadows or dens where it is cooler during the heat of the day only to emerge in the cooler night air, survival Beneath the Sun is innate in all creatures.

The heat of the sun encompasses dessert, sea shore, and forest; and survival and coping skills abound amongst the creatures.  Even in the sea, the sea anemones pull in their tentacles and the sea stars hide in the shade of a dense seaweed mat.

Living creatures all - animals, insects, sea life, mankind, cope with the heat of the sun and revel and relax in the cool of the summer's night air.

I thoroughly enjoyed the lovely illustrations created by Constance Bergum. Though softly drawn and not photographic like, they still were pretty true to life. The artwork and text by author Melissa Stewart were well coordinated. This is a book designed for the young child ages 4-8 and does a good job for this age group.

a Rafflecopter giveaway GIVEAWAY:  One of Chat With Vera's readers will be randomly chosen using the Rafflecopter entry form to receive a copy of Beneath the Sun provided by Peachtree Publishers. Giveaway ENDS May 8 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT and is open to USA-addresses only.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Beneath the Sun by Peachtree Publishers in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review. Giveaway copy is also provided directly to the winner by Peachtree Publishers.

A Sensible Arrangement (Lone Star Brides #1) by Tracie Peterson (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN: 9780764210587
About the book:  About the book:  Marty Dandridge Olson is a widow looking for a way out of Texas. Widower Jake Wythe has secured a job as a bank manager in Denver, only to discover that the bank board wants him to be a married man. With Texas in his roots, he advertises for a Lone Star bride, and Marty answers the call. They both agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.

Marty works to carve out a new life in high-society Denver as Jake works to guide the bank through a collapsing economy. But when money goes missing at the bank and accounting discrepancies point to Jake, he must find a way to prove his innocence. Yet all he wants to do is go back to Texas and own his own ranch. Marty, on the other hand, owns a ranch–one she’s never told her husband about. She hates Texas because it represents the losses in her life. But as the couple grows closer and love begins to bloom, Marty realizes she needs to tell Jake the truth. Can she come to terms with the past and her anger toward God in order to make room for love?

My thoughts:  I have read several of Tracie Peterson’s books through the years and reviewed some here on Chat With Vera. Usually, I totally enjoy her stories, settings, and characters. I felt, though, that A Sensible Arrangement gets the Lone Star Brides series off to a rough start. Perhaps it is that I just didn't care for the story or just simply wasn't in the mood for this particular read at this point in time, but I don’t think that is the case. Things I liked about the story and book:
  • The “mail order bride” or marriage of convenience was not a totally unrealistic happening during that time frame. It is hard for folks in 2014 to conceive of entering into such an arrangement, but it did happen and it was successful for the parties at least in some measure.
  • Marty's feisty spirit during her ride into Denver on the "safe" stage coach when she virtually saved the day.
  • The superior complex of the society dames is pretty much spot-on right. It happened then. It happens now. Marty’s finally standing up to them was strong.
  • Marty’s caring contribution of herself and her efforts to the orphans got close to my heart. My own mother and her younger brother had to be placed in an orphanage at age 9 because her father died and her mother could not care for her. That was in the mid-1920s.
  • The historic depression of the economy being woven through the story, though it seemed the story based the “crash” more on the collapse of silver and the gold not backing sufficiently. Here is a short paragraph from Wikipedia about that:  
              "The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United States that began in 1893. Similar to the Panic of 1873, it was marked by the overbuilding and shaky financing of railroads, resulting in a series of bank failures. Compounding market overbuilding and the railroad bubble was a run on the gold supply. The Panic of '93 was the worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced at the time."
Now some things I did not care about in the book: 
  • I felt that Marty’s character was a bit contrived. I especially didn’t care for her begging repeatedly for Jake’s forgiveness. 
  • The story dragged in places.
  • The ending was rather abrupt.
I can see subsequent books in the series having the orphans that are transferred to Texas play major roles. I also see Alice making an appearance either as a major player or just continuing her story in another setting. (You'll have to read the book to learn Alice's story.) I can also see a touch of Marty and Jake and their life-after-the-financial-bubble-burst. We’ll see.

Do I recommend the book. Yes.

GIVEAWAY:  Litfuse Publicity Group is providing a copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win in a giveaway. Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Begins April 17 & ENDS May 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open for USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of A Sensible Arrangement from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Bethany House a Division of Baker Publishing Group and the author, Tracie Peterson in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Dr. Fischer Mother's Day Dead Sea Minerals Gift Set: Review & Giveaway

Isn't this a lovely package? You know, I was so thrilled when given the opportunity to review these products from Dr. Fischer's! What lady doesn't love a bit of a "spa treatment"? I know I do! Now you don't have to travel to Israel to experience the benefits of Dead Sea minerals to pamper and condition your skin. You can shower, exfoliate, and cream your skin with these products right in the comfort of your own home.

First, what is in this lovely package?  The Dr. Fischer Dead Sea Minerals Gift Set includes four beauty products specially priced at $47.95. (Purchased individually, the retail value is $74.) 

I have been using these lovely items for a week now and I have to say that I am totally enjoying them. The fragrance of all the items is very subtle and refreshing. Slightly fragrant but so pleasant. Let's look at them individually!

Mineral Creamy Shower Mousse: Product Description - Gentle Cleansing & Active Moisture, Soothes & Rejuvenates the Skin. Contains Dead Sea Minerals, Olive Oil, Cotton Oil, Almond Oil, Fig Extract, Vitamin E & A, Omega 3 & 6.

My thoughts: I used a couple of pumps and thoroughly enjoyed the smoothness and delight of it as I washed my skin. It feels so good and refreshing. My skin did not feel like it had had a strong, harsh product cleansing it, but had a lovely clean feel. The fragrance is delightfully light.

Mineral Shower Scrub:   Product Description - Three Actions in One - Cleansing, Peeling & Moisturizing. Contains Dead Sea Minerals, Jasmine Extract, Tea Tree Oil, Witch Hazel and Pro-Vitamin B5

My thoughts:  This amber colored product does a fantastic job of exfoliating my skin. My legs felt wonderfully smooth after using it only once. It is not harsh as some "scrubs" are. It seems to peel the skin at the same time it cleans and moisturizes it leaving it smooth and feeling wonderful.

Mineral Body Butter:  Product Description - Intensive Moisture Complex for Healthy & Younger Looking Skin. Contains: Dead Sea Minerals, Vanilla, Patchouli Fragrance, Cotton Oil, Omega 3 & 6, Shea Butter, Olive Oil, Almond Oil, linseed Oil, Vitamin C & E

My thoughts:  I have found that most of the body butters I have used in the past are simply too greasy! They are heavy or sticky or greasy. Also, many have such a strong, long lasting perfumed fragrance that it overwhelms. NOT SO with Dr. Fischer's Mineral Body Butter in this Dead Seas gift set. It is delightful and leaves my arms, legs, shoulders and chest feeling delightfully satiny. Hours later, my skin still feels this smoothness and softness. I am delighted.

Mineral Hand Cream:  Product Description - Dr. Fischer's Genesis' DEAD SEA MINERALS PLUS Moisturizing Hand Cream
Hypoallergenic * Sensitive-Approved * Emollient Enriched
Dead Sea Minerals - Omega 3 & 6 - Silicon
Aloe Vera & Chamomile Extracts - Vitamin E
Intensive moisturizing care with an enriched complex of emollients, herbal extracts and minerals. Regular daily use prevents dryness and keeps the hands extra soft, smooth and healthy looking.
* Intensively hydrating care to keep the hands soft and youthful.
* Caring Aloe Vera and soothing Chamomile natural plant extracts.
* Vitamin E for essential anti-aging protection against free radicals.
* Provides a soothing, protective barrier that cares for dry skin.
* Non-greasy, easily absorbed and leaves the hands pleasantly fragrant.
My thoughts:  There are so very many hand creams on the market and through the years I have used my fair share of them. There are greasy creams or lotions. There are sticky creams and lotions. There are those those that are simply non-effective and a total waste of money. When I started to use the Dr. Fischer Dead Sea Minerals hand cream, I thought, "Well, another smooth it on, not-gonna-do-much cream." Well, after a couple of days I was seeing that my poor tired, worn hands were looking and feeling so much better. Not perfect. But then, these are MY hands we're talking about. Just much better. I am totally enjoying this hand cream that is NOT greasy. NOT sticky. And it IS effective.

Click Here to read the Dr. Fischer's Dead Sea Minerals Products Brochure

The Dr. Fischer Gift Sets are packed by women with special needs at Bayit Cham-The Centers for Mental Wellness. When you buy this gift, you are supporting this special population of women.
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GIVEAWAY: One of Chat With Vera's readers has the chance to win their very own Mother's Day Spa Package! Prize is provided by Dr. Fischer. One winner per household, email address or home address. If you have won this prize on another blog you are ineligible to win again. Winners must have a U.S.-based address to receive their prize. Giveaway ENDS MAY 7 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.

About Fischer Pharmaceuticals Ltd.  Fischer Pharmaceuticals, founded in 1965, is a multi-national company specializing in the manufacture of more than 500 skin and health care products that are marketed worldwide. Investment in extensive research and development and quality control rapidly established the Dr. Fischer logo synonymous with quality and innovation.

Fischer Pharmaceuticals offers innovative solutions for head-to-toe healthcare that includes treatment toiletries, advanced anti-aging cosmetics, dietary supplements and medical preparations. All Dr. Fischer products are meticulously tested for safety and efficacy and carry the seals of approval of many prestigious medical organizations worldwide. Millions of consumers know that the Dr. Fischer slogan, “Tried & Tested,” fulfills its promise of quality products for all family members.

Dr. Eli Fischer, President, Fischer Pharmaceuticals, Ltd.  At the age of 78 Dr. Eli Fischer doesn’t plan to retire any time soon. He is a scientist, a successful international industrialist, philanthropist and an international brand.

Dr. Fischer received his Doctorate of Pharmacy degree from the University of California and was a teaching fellow at Harvard. His first innovation was in the field of ophthalmology. He developed a medical preparation for treating glaucoma, which becoming the "drug of choice" for ophthalmologists worldwide. In 1965 he founded Fischer Pharmaceuticals in Israel specializing in the fields of ophthalmology and dermatology.

Dr. Fischer is active in interfaith organizations for peace, provides grants for research students, and donates to numerous charities that support women and children.

DISCLOSURE:  I participated in this event on behalf of Wendy's Bloggers for Fischer Pharmaceuticals Ltd. I received Dr. Fischer products to facilitate my review.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Shining Light by Judith Miller

Bethany House Publishers
ISBN: 9780764210020
About the book:  The kind people of Amana have been her guiding light, but her greatest trial is yet to come...   West Amana, Iowa, 1890

After Andrea Wilson receives the devastating news that her husband has been lost at sea, she returns home to Iowa with her young son, Lukas. But what she finds there causes more heartache: The family farm has burned and her father has died, leaving Andrea with nothing.

Andrea must rely on the kindness of the people from the nearby Amana village who invite her to stay with them for a time. She discovers much generosity and contentment among the Amanans--especially from the tinsmith, Dirk Knefler, who takes her son under his wing. But is the simple, cloistered life in Amana what Andrea wants for Lukas's future? Is she willing to give up the comforts and freedom of the outside world? And when yet another round of shocking news comes her way, will Andrea ever be able to find the serenity and hope that have eluded her for so long?

My thoughts: When presented with the opportunity to review A Shining Light I agreed to do so primarily because I have never read a historical novel based on the Amana Colony in the 1890s. Knowing that Judith Miller researches well when she writes, I looked forward to this romp in historical fiction amongst the Amana colonists. Since I knew virtually nothing about the Amana Colony, I did a bit of my own internet research prior to beginning my read. So as the story unfolded, it came to life for me.  (Overview on Wikipedia of Amana Colonies)

Our heroine and her son, Andrea and Lukas, have come upon really hard times after the death at sea of her rough, unloving husband. So she seeks out her father and his farm which just happens to be adjacent to the Amana holdings. Upon arrival she sees the homestead has burned down and learns that her father is dead. Prior to this unhappy occurrence, her father had sold the farm to the Amana Colony with right to dwell there until his death. So Andrea now has absolutely nothing.

Faced with untold sorrow and misfortune, Andrea and Lukas are taken in by the folks in the Colony until they can reach a decision about their direction in life. Andrea is not completely ignorant of the beliefs and customs of the Amana Colony, so she and Lukas seem to adjust and fit right into daily life.

I found that as the story proceeded the beliefs and customs of the Amana folks seem to be  a mixture between Amish and Quaker. While they have families that dwell together as the Amish do, they work in community kitchens and on community farms. The flour mill is owned by the Colony. It seems no one works for pay. They simply live, work, eat, and sleep there and all do their part to make the community work. One has to be voted in by the leadership group similar to becoming Amish. But there are differences.

The story's resolution surprised me but I was not disappointed. It is a sweet story of reliance on God to supply one’s needs and the support that a community of faith can give to a believer in sweet communion with the community.

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

Canyon of Danger and River of Peril Goldtown Adventures #3 and #4 By Susan K. Marlow (with free study guides to download)

Canyon of Danger (Goldtown Adventures #3) by Susan K. Marlow:

About the book: Jem Coulter's pa, the sheriff of Goldtown, is away on a trip to deliver a prisoner to Sacramento, and he has left Jem in charge of the ranch-along with Aunt Rose, that is.

No sooner is the sheriff gone then trouble starts-a dead calf, a mysterious stranger, and then Pa's horse, Copper, and his prize rifle are stolen. And Pa's deputies seem unconcerned. Jem and his cousin Nathan find Copper's tracks end at a dark canyon up in the hills.

Jem remembers an old Indian legend Strike-it-rich Sam is fond of retelling about people disappearing and no one ever seeing them again. What is the real story of the canyon of danger? Have thieves found the perfect hideout?

Readers ages 8 to 12 will be entertained by the adventurous spirit and historical lure in this fast-moving series that teaches about life in the post-Gold Rush days of 1860s California. Quick-paced plots and unforgettable characters make these books fun for the whole family.

My thoughts:   I found Canyon of Danger a book rife with boy-adventure, learning to mature and trust, and boys being adventurous boys. Jem's adventures involving trying to shoot the wolf that killed one of their cattle and instead shooting a man, of having his horse and Pa's rifle stolen, of trying to find the thieving rascals will keep the reader glued to the pages. The exciting rescue and revelation at the end is predictable but still great.

A terrific read for boys 8-12 or girl's, too. Boys will love it for the all-boy feel it has in the character development and super high level of adventure that is sure to enthrall and entertain.

I recommend this and the others in the series for home, school, and public libraries.

Study (Enrichment) Guide for Canyon of Danger (download a free PDF)


River of Peril (Goldtown Adventures #4) by Susan K. Marlow

About the book: Jem Coulter thinks his family is just on a sightseeing trip to the big city of Sacramento. Then armed bandits hold up the stagecoach for the secret stash they're carrying: gold for the Union Army fighting the distant Civil War! Suddenly war isn't nso far away; it's right there on the road to Sacramento, with Jem's father, the sheriff of Goldtown, fighting against the rebel army's Knights of the Golden Circle.

When the family finally reaches the city, they think they're safe at last. Setting out to see the sights, Jem, his sister Ellie, and their cousin Nathan make a new friend. But is Henry the pal they think he is? With a father who is a die-hard Confederate, could Henry be in cahoots with the thieves?

River of Peril gives readers ages 8 to 12 the fast-moving, exciting adventure they've come to expect in this series, as well as a glimpse into the history of post--Gold Rush and Civil War life in 1860s California, with stagecoaches, steamboats, stowaways--and lots of gold!

My thoughts: Well, I found this book an absolutely delightful read. I felt thoroughly engrossed in Jem's adventures involving the stage holdup gang, the rescue of a stranger on the dock, their being in peril on the river (hence the book's title), and the exciting wrapup of the story at the end.

A terrific read for boys 8-12 or girl's, too, if they don't mind it not being "girly." Boys will love it for the all-boy feel it has in the character development and level of adventure.

I recommend this and the others in the series for home, school, and public libraries.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of the books from Kregel Publishing in exchange for my honest review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.