Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Lady At Willowgrove Hall by Sarah E. Ladd (Review & Giveaway)

About the book:  Cecily Faire carries the shame of her past wherever she treads, knowing one slip of the tongue could strip away everything she holds dear. But soon after accepting the position of lady's companion at Willowgrove Hall, Cecily finds herself face-to-face with a man well-acquainted with the past she's desperately hidden for years.

Nathaniel Stanton has a secret of his own --- one that has haunted him from birth and tied him to his father's position as steward of Willowgrove. To protect his family, Nathaniel dares not breath a word of the truth. But as long as the shadow looms over him, he'll never be free to find his own way in the world. He'll never be free to fall in love.

When the secrets swirling within Willowgrove Hall come to light, Cecily and Nathaniel must confront a painful choice: Will they continue running from the past . . . or will they stand together and build a future without the suffocating weight of secrets long suffered?

My thoughts:  T. She grows to care for the elderly lady she is charged with being companion to and the affection is somewhat reciprocated. But there are secrets abounding including one Cecily holds herself.

Nathaniel is the young man who manages the land and house. There is an attraction between Nathaniel and Cecily but this budding interest is nicely handled by the author and it doesn't overshadow the conflict of characters and their interwoven lives.

A very good conclusion to the trilogy and we shall look for new and interested reads in the future from Sarah Ladd.

GIVEAWAY:  A copy is being provided for one of Chat With Vera's readers to vie for in this giveaway. Held only here on Chat With Vera and provided by Litfuse Publicity Group. Begins October 30 & ENDS November 19 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Open to US addresses only.
 a Rafflecopter giveaway
Meet the Author:  Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. The Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for a review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

O Little Town of Bethlehem (Magic Music Button Edition) By: Phillips Brooks Illustrated By: Nathalie Beauvois

About the little book: A new musical board book that sweetly celebrates a classic Christmas ca Joseph, and the angels gather around the holy child, the events surrounding the birth of Jesus unfold. Children will love reading about Jesus' birth in this reverently told and sweetly illustrated book.

This traditional Christmas carol was written in 1868 by Phillips Brooks, an Episcopal priest who was inspired by a visit to Bethlehem.rol.
Based on the Christmas song, 'O Little Town of Bethlehem,' this book introduces the story of Jesus' birth. As Mary,

The melody of the song plays when the button is pushed. This new sound book will be a Christmastime classic for years to come. Ages 2-5.

My thoughts: Children absolutely love books where there is a button to push that brings music to them to go along with their story. In this case, the "story" is the beloved Christmas favorite - "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

Beautifully illustrated with soft, yet vivid colors with people that are simplistic in art style, the verses of this Christmas carol will be listened to, read aloud, sung, and carried all about the house, in the mini-van or the SUV along the freeway and into the grocery store. Children will absolutely not want to put it down.

Each turn of the page gives a glimpse of the town of Bethlehem and of the dear Christ child  with the words to this classic, old, true-to-God's-Word song.

My grand-girls have had their own copy of "Away In A Manger" with the same delightful push button for music. They loved it! I can hardly wait to pass along this copy of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" to them. There is a little 3-year-old whose hands will tenderly and lovingly hold this sturdy board book.

I guess you get the picture - this is a highly-recommended item here on Chat With Vera. 
GIVEAWAY: The good folks at Ideals Publications and their imprint CandyCane Press are holding a copy of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" for one of Chat With Vera's readers. Let's see who will win and delight a child. Hopefully, the book will arrive in time for Christmas enjoyment. Begins October 29 & ENDS November 19 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Open to US addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Ideal Publications in exchange for this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Monday, October 27, 2014

InstaNatural Youth Express Eye Gel - Ultimate Eye & Face Treatment {Review}

I regularly use products for caring for the tender skin around my eyes. Some tend to make little white-heads and I assume they are too dense or heavy for my skin. Some don't seem to make any difference at all when using them morning and evening. Some are said to help erase the dark circles that many of us have. So the question is, where does the InstaNatural Youth Express Eye Gel fit in with the scheme of caring for our skin around the eyes.

Crow's feet, hooded lids, puffy, dark circles, crepe-paper-thin wrinkled skin. We've seen it all. And it is us, it is me, it is I - however you want to say it. We've all got a bit of need in the eye area.

Youth Express Eye Gel has lots of ingredients that are on the skin care "hit-list" right now. I don't know what works and what doesn't. Hyaluronic Acid, Peptide Complex, Plant Stem Cells, Matrixyl 3000, Amino Acid Complex are listed on the front of the package. Organic ingredients! And the "not in our eye gel" list is great - NO parabens, sulfates or alcohol.

The folks at InstaNatural say this is good for the entire face and the package size will allow for that without breaking the bank. Most eye creams or gels have .5 to 1 oz. This has 1.7 fl oz which is comparable to most face care products. So one product might just do the job for you.

Now what do I think of the gel? It has a nice cooling feel after application but there is no stinging. It glides on very easy. I've used it day and night. It helps; but then I don't expect miracles. I just hope to at least maintain the status quo and Youth Express goes a bit beyond that. I expect any eye product I use to help me wake to eyes not so old and weathered looking. Not hooded and puffy. This does a pretty good job.
Product description (from InstaNatural website)
InstaNatural’s Eye Gel provides absolute care to the eye area. It is enriched with Plant Stem Cells, Hyaluronic Acid, Matrixyl 3000, Vitamin E and Jojoba Oil to help with dark circles, wrinkles, puffiness and sagging skin. This blend of powerful ingredients increases elasticity and enhances the tone of your skin to provide a firm, plump appearance.

  • Provides ultimate care and protection to eye area
  • Goes on gently and is safe for all skin types
  • Reduces appearance of puffiness and dark circles around eyes
  • Contains organic ingredients and is 100% natural
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary product in exchange for this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review. I was not required to render a positive review.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Adovia Intensive Anti Wrinkle Facial Moisturizer Cream uses Dead Sea Salt & Minerals for Maximum Anti Wrinkle Effect {Review}

Adovia has again granted the privilege to me of reviewing another of their fine products. Previously I reviewed their Adovia Moisturizing Day Cream and their Adovia Anti-Aging Facial Life & Firm Serum - both delightful products.
I have been using Adovia Intensive Anti Wrinkle Facial Moisturizer Cream for about two weeks, morning and evening, and it works very nicely. It is a dense cream but goes on smoothly. It serves as a make-up base or primer as well as moisturizer. I am a firm believer in using moisturizers at least twice a day. I also believe that serums play a great part in the care of our skin, so I use serums as well.

I am so delighted to use a product created and produced in Israel with wonderful minerals from the Dead Sea. Other ingredients in this product are acclaimed as being great for the skin, too. This is a fine product, and I am pleased to share it with my readers. 

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION:  Infused Your Skin with Vitamin C, Dead Sea Salt & Minerals, Lactic Acid and Collagen for Maximum Long Term Anti Wrinkle Effect

  • Smoothes out the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Firms and tones aging skin making it more youthful and refreshed.
  • Infuses skin with Dead Sea Minerals
  • Seaweed and Aloe Vera feed skin needed nutrients for maintaining naturally youthful skin
  • Helps prevent and delay the appearance of new wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Also contains Silicon and Vitamin A, which increase the firmness and overall vitality of your skin. 
  • Made in Israel with Genuine Dead Sea Minerals as the key ingredient. 
  • Uniquely combines the healing power of Minerals from the Dead Sea with natural botanical ingredients from the Earth.
Not a phony "Miracle" Anti Aging Cream - an Ingredient Based Long Term Approach to Younger Looking Skin Seaweed and Premier Aloe Vera feed skin needed nutrients for maintaining naturally youthful skin

Anti Aging Wrinkle Cream Increase the firmness and overall vitality of your skin.

Directions: Apply dime size amount to the face in circles in the morning and at night or when needed. It is highly recommended to use this product in combination with the Mineral Lift Serum. Apply a very small amount of serum first (it's concentrated so only a little is needed), then follow with the Intensive Anti Wrinkle Cream.

DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Promise to Protect by Patricia Bradley

About the book: Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn't heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn't mean he can get her--or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago--out of his head. When she calls out of the blue, it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. When Tony dies just days later, Ben is charged with a different task--protecting Leigh and her nine-year-old son, TJ, from the killers. But how can Ben keep an eye on Leigh if she's doing everything in her power to avoid him? And could the secret that Leigh is keeping change Ben's life forever?

Suspense, intrigue, and a touch of romance make A Promise to Protect perfect for readers who like their stories with a hearty dose of mystery.

My thoughts: Patricia Bradley writes an easy to read, clean romantic suspense and A Promise to Protect fits this category. While I found the story a bit slow in places and the seemingly unreal plethora of events and bad things happening to the folks in Logan Point, it was an enjoyable, though not captivating, read.

I can recommend it easily for those who enjoy contemporary romantic suspense. I enjoy this genre and this book was pleasant. There was not too much romance and it was a clean read - which is a high priority in my reading material.

What I really liked: 1) I really liked T.J. who is Leigh's young son and he exuds little boy hype, energy, fun, and caring. 2) I really liked the interaction between T.J. and Ben's father who is incapable of speech. T.J. has a real connection with him (more than meets the eye, too). 3) I really like the protection that Ben wants to provide for Leigh. To me this is a paramount character in strong men and men of virtue.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Revell in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. No compensation was received for this review.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet

What a beautiful children's biography of the man that developed a word treasure - Roget's Thesaurus. The artistry of Melissa Sweet combined with the telling by Jen Bryant is masterful. Children (and adults) will learn much from this delightful biography that begins when Peter Mark Roget (pronounced Roh-Zhay) was just a young boy whose father had died.

Peter used his intellect to entertain himself by the making of lists of words. Lists for everything. He began with a list of Principal Events, 1783 Jean Roget (his father's death). Moving often and having few friends, Peter's list making and fascination with words became his pastime and his "friend."

I just love the "word-illustrations" of Melissa Sweet. They in themselves alone will provide much educational entertainment for children as they peruse each page making full use of the picture and word correlations.

Advancing on into adult life, Peter continued with his fascination with words and variables of each word. Different words to mean the same thing. He became well known and respected because of this talent.

Take a peek inside The Right Word

Biographies have a way of being dry and unappealing to children and often adults. I value as a treasure books that bring real people to life for children in such a way that they will delve into the book to really learn what the person was like, who they were, and what they did. The Right Word accomplishes this very well and will be a fine addition to the home library as well as school and public libraries.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of The Right Word from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for the review.

Purex Crystals Aromatherapy Stimulate your life and infuse your laundry with soothing aromas {Review & Giveaway}

October brings a new product in stores to make laundry day (or days) more enjoyable. Purex Crystals Aromatherapy in three new fragrances hits the market enhancing family laundry with soothing aromas brought about by essential oils.
Tossing a capful of crystals into your laundry brings an aromatherapy effect as the fragrance wafts upward when you lift the freshly washed clothes out of the washer.

There are three scents – 

  1. Well Being brightens any mood with the happy fragrance of fresh blossoms
  2. Energy helps you tackle any day with the stimulating power of citrus
  3. Serenity keeps you calm all day long with the gentle scent of water-lilies
As a Purex Insider I have been given the opportunity to receive a bottle and sample it prior to writing this review. I am using the Well Being, floral/fresh blossoms scent. It is lovely. I just finished a load of whites using the Purex Crystals Aromatherapy Well Being, and when I lifted them from the washer freshly clean, I was very impressed with the fragrance.

I look forward to more washes enhanced with this in-wash scent booster.

GIVEAWAY: One of Chat With Vera’s readers is going to win 2 coupons for a free product. Begins October 17 & ENDS November 4 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a free product and the giveaway coupons in exchange for this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and I received no compensation for this review.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Daughter of Highland Hall (Edwardian Brides book #2) by Carrie Turansky (Review & Giveaway)

ISBN: 9781601424983
Waterbrook/Multnomah Publisher
About the book: When family expectations and societal pressures collide with love and faith, which values will emerge the victor? Award-winning author Carrie Turansky explores this theme in her new book, The Daughter of Highland Hall.

Book two in the Edwardian Brides Series, The Daughter of Highland Hall, follows 18-year-old Kate Ramsey on a journey of self-discovery as she travels to London to make her societal debut. Her overbearing aunt insists she secure a marriage proposal from a wealthy, titled man. As Kate begins making the round of balls and garden parties, she attracts the attention of Edward Wellington, who seems to have all the qualifications on her list. Yet, is he the best choice? Will this lifestyle bring her true happiness?

Fans of this time period, as represented in the popular TV show Downton Abbey, will be charmed by The Daughter of Highland Hall, which captures both the upstairs and downstairs aspects of Edwardian life, giving readers an emotional connection with the aristocratic Ramsey family and the hardworking, loyal servants.

This pure and inspiring romance will warm the hearts of readers and ultimately point them to the Author of their own love stories.

My thoughts: I recently reviewed another book by a different author set in the same time frame - pre-World War I but that story was set in the United States. Now we're "across the pond" in pre-World War I England. The setting is the social astute with the presentation of one of their own to the Queen and commencing of the young lady's social season. Kate is a young 18 year old whose family home, Highland Hall, has now been passed along to a distant cousin because male heirs are the ones who inherit title and land.

Characters include a young doctor who grew up in India as the son of missionary parents and who feels the calling to return and serve the poor of India with his medical training. Kate the young lady being presented to court has an inheritance, just no land. Previous characters from Turansky's first book in this series - William and Julia - are about to marry. These are well-drawn characters and the plot moves with grace as they live out their stories.

All is not necessarily well, though. Cutting remarks are made as to Kate's family connections being questionable. Any despairing remark can ruin a social season and cost the young lady the opportunity to marry well. There is a man of wealth and stature in Kate's future, that is unless her family or she herself is criticized to the extent that her season is cut short and ruined.

I found it interesting to compare life during these pre-war years in different parts of the world. Both include snobbery. Both include "lower" class. Both include spiritual truths. It is such a joy to have books  available to read that are well-written, clean, entertaining, knowledgeable, and that contain spiritual truths.

GIVEAWAY: Begins October 16 & ENDS November 6 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Open to USA addresses only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the author: Carrie Turansky is the award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas, including Surrendered Hearts, Snowflake Sweethearts, and Along Came Love. She has been the recipient of the ACFW Carol Award, the Crystal Globe Award, and the International Digital Award. Turansky's first historical fiction novel, and the first in the Edwardian Brides series, The Governess of Highland Hall, is a 2014 Carol Award finalist. While Turansky has been writing articles, devotions and essays since 1999, writing fiction is her passion, and she's thankful for the creative ideas God has put into her mind and heart. Turansky was born and raised in Oregon but currently lives in central New Jersey with her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, counselor and the author of several parenting books.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of Daughter of Highland Hall by Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Candid Essentials Organic Face Cream - Anti Aging VITAMIN C Moisturizer Cream

About the product (from Candid Essentials information): 

Candid Essentials Daily Moisturizing Lotion Advanced Anti Aging is a combination of organic, natural compounds to create the ultimate formula to moisturize, revitalize and reanimate any type of skin. Roughened from the outdoors? Sensitive to almost anything? Starting to sag? Our multi-faceted lotion can work wonders for them all. It won't clog your pores and leaves no oily residue. It absorbs quickly with no left over greasy shine, leaving your skin feeling smooth and soft to the touch.

My thoughts:  This is a lovely cream. It feels wonderful on my skin. Softening. Ever so slightly fragrant. Smooth. I just love the way it feels. And to think it is organic and contains none of the baddies such as SLS, Parabens, Phthalates, Toxins, or Harmful Chemicals. I'm not a purist (meaning I know I use products that aren't really very pure and probably contain items not best to use); but whenever I am able to make use of products that are pure, I certainly do so.

The cream is rich but light weight and does not leave a greasy feeling on my face. I simply don't care for dense, heavy creams that are "waxy" feeling. The Candid Essentials product is just right.

I think that men who see the value in caring for their face will also appreciate this cream just as ladies will appreciate it. I suggest that Chat With Vera's readers give this one a try.

Product information - Advanced Anti-Aging Daily Moisturizing Lotion (from Candid Essentials):

HYDRATE & MOISTURIZE YOUR SKIN - Immerse your skin in a soothing balm of vitamin-rich hydration that leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after each application.
REJUVENATING POWERFUL VITAMIN C - Experience the revitalizing power of vitamin C as it goes to work increasing your collagen production for a younger, firmer appearance, reducing free-radical damage for added skin protection, and refining your skin texture for a beautiful, even-toned face that will literally glow.
BEAUTIFUL, RADIANT GLOWING SKIN - Obliterate those unwanted sun spots and eliminate skin discoloration with our proprietary blend to give your face the radiance you've always wanted.
SUPERIOR BLEND OF NATURAL INGREDIENTS - Our carefully crafted formula which includes rich shea butter, aloe vera, jojoba oil, safflower oil and vitamin b5 among other natural ingredients will revitalize, moisturize and tone your skin for proven, powerful anti-aging results - Nut Free!
  • Increases collagen production, leading to a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles for a firmer, younger appearance
  • Diminishes sun spots and skin discoloration for even-toned skin
  •  ... and reduces oxidative damage, protecting your skin from today's mix of everyday toxins.
DISCLOSURE: I receive this product without charge in exchange for a review. However, I only recommend products I use and can recommend. I received no compensation for this review and opinions expressed are solely my own.

Claude On the Slopes by Alex T. Smith (Review & Giveaway)

Oh! To see one's name in big, bold letters!

About the book:  Ages 7-9
ISBN: 9781561458059
$12.95 - Hardcover

We're visiting Claude again. Claude is from the United Kingdom (England) or France or somewhere thereabout. Claude is a dog and lives with his people and Sir Bobbysock. Claude and his friend and companion, Sir Bobbysock, like to gad about when his people are not present and this time the slopes have a covering of snow and that is where Claudel goes - The Slopes.

As an early reader "chapter book," the Claude series brings delightfully simple line drawings, sparingly colored with bright red and blues and a storyline complete with innuendoes that the adults will relish that is both elementary and sophisticated.

Elementary children will identify with a visit to the library and reminder to use their"indoor voice." And then the delight one feels when they encounter first snow! Discovery of snow and the fun it brings to life was a joy to Claude.

Claude wears a magical beret and it provides lots of goodies and helpful items along the way. Again, Alex T. Smith has brought a delightful book for young readers. Parents (and kiddies) who build home libraries will want to get the entire series. I encourage school and public libraries to add these to their shelves for young readers to enjoy.

Claude Sock Puppet!
Peachtree Publishers is home for Claude and is providing a giveaway copy for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win for a favorite child of yours or to give to a library. But before we get to the entry form, check out the Peachtree blog where they have an absolutely fun project making a sock puppet. Here is the link! and below is a picture of the finished project. Don't you just want to get started on one right now?

GIVEAWAY:  Begins October 14 & ENDS November 5 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now read what other readers are saying about Claude On the Slopes
·     Monday,10/13- Picture Book to YA The Write Path
·     Tuesday, 10/14- Geo Librarian and  Kit Lit Reviews
·     Wednesday, 10/15- Chat with Vera
·     Thursday, 10/16- The 4th Musketeer
·     Friday, 10/17- Librarian in Cute Shoes

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Claude on the Slopes from Peachtree Publishers in exchange for this review. No compensation was received and opinions expressed are solely my own. The winner's giveaway copy is provided by Peachtree and will be shipped directly to the winner.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Buttermilk Sky by Jan Watson

About the book: Weary of the expectations imposed on her by her strict upbringing, eighteen-year-old Mazy Pelfrey prepares to leave her home in the Kentucky mountains for the genteel city of Lexington, where she’ll attend secretarial school. She knows her life is about to change—and only for the better. Everything will be blue skies from now on.

But business school is harder than she thought it would be and the big city not as friendly, until she meets a charming young man from a wealthy family, Loyal Chambers. When Loyal sets his sights on her, Mazy begins to see that everything she’d ever wished to have is right before her eyes. The only hindrance to her budding romance is a former beau, Chanis Clay, the young sheriff she thought left firmly behind.
Danger rumbles like thunder on a high mountain ridge when Mazy’s cosseted past collides with her clouded future and forces her to come to terms with what she really wants.

My thoughts: Life in Kentucky just prior to World War I was simple, especially in the South. Wanting something different than marriage and family in a small town, Mazy goes to Lexington where she studies secretarial skills - shorthand and typing. She lives in a boarding home under the watchful eye of a firm matron with several other young women seeking to make their lives better by being prepared to earn a living.

Mazy has left a young man behind who wants marriage - with Mazy. He is dependable and loyal. However, Mazy wishes to branch out and test her wings in the world a bit. She meets a young man of wealth who seems to fancy her. Several events bring pleasure and trouble into her life and in her distress she must make choices.

Jan Watson has written a believable story with well-drawn characters. Chavis (male lead character) is interesting, especially in how he interacts with his prisoners and responsibilities as sheriff. Sometimes it is quite humorous. My favorite character in the entire book, though, is Cinnamon. I hope the author will bring us a sequel that focuses on Cinnamon.

Buttermilk Skies gives us a peek into the lives of young people here in the United States just prior to the war and into the social strata of that time.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of Buttermilk Sky from Tyndale Blog Network as a member of its blogger review program. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I received no compensation for this review.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Body Merry Cellulite Defense Gel Cream (Review)

Aging is not fun and sometimes the signs show up sooner than later. One of these are the pesky lumps, bumps, and areas that are just not as smooth as when we were in our hey-days. It's called cellulite and its not fun even though it isn't deadly and most of the time we can cover it up. Body Merry has a product that helps a bit in combating the looks of cellulite.

I have now tried Body Merry Cellulite Defense Gel Cream for a couple of weeks. I simply have not used it daily, but when I have, I have been pleasantly surprised.

Even if it were not a help as a defense against the appearance of cellulite, it certainly is a pleasant gel cream to use. It seems absolutely therapeutic to me. After applying to those pesky cellulite areas (ladies, you know where), the warmth and feel as it works and the aromatic therapy is, to me, worth using. I like it for this effect in and of itself! Also, I have noticed that the areas to which I applied the gel cream have a smoother appearance. So I can say this is a nice product.

Do I recommend it? Well, I can only suggest you try it to see if it works for you and if provides any benefit for you.

Product Description (provided by Body Merry)

Combat cellulite with our unique Caffeine + Retinol + Seaweed formula. This gel-cream has a strong caffeine content with the optimum level of retinol (0.4%), as recommended by experts. For good measure, we’ve also added potent natural and organic ingredients such as algae extract, kelp, coconut oil, Japanese green tea leaf extract and cayenne. Like all our products, it is free from harsh chemicals such as parabens, sulfates and phthalates.

The gel-cream consistency is designed to spread over large areas and it absorbs quickly into your skin. The cream is infused with a refreshing 100% natural ‘mint - green tea - lime’ fragrance, that barely leaves a trace once fully absorbed.

In a nutshell, Body Merry’s Cellulite Defense Gel-Cream is your ticket to visibly reducing the appearance of unwanted bumps and lumps and getting skin that feels and looks tighter, smoother and younger!

DISCLOSURE: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

A Spy Among Friends Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal by Ben Macintyre

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre’s most ambitious work to date brings to life the twentieth century’s greatest spy story.

Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain’s counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War—while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby’s best friend and fellow officer in MI6. The two men had gone to the same schools, belonged to the same exclusive clubs, grown close through the crucible of wartime intelligence work and long nights of drink and revelry. It was madness for one to think the other might be a communist spy, bent on subverting Western values and the power of the free world.

But Philby was secretly betraying his friend. Every word Elliott breathed to Philby was transmitted back to Moscow—and not just Elliott’s words, for in America, Philby had made another powerful friend: James Jesus Angleton, the crafty, paranoid head of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton's and Elliott’s unwitting disclosures helped Philby sink almost every important Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years, leading countless operatives to their doom. Even as the web of suspicion closed around him, and Philby was driven to greater lies to protect his cover, his two friends never abandoned him—until it was too late. The stunning truth of his betrayal would have devastating consequences on the two men who thought they knew him best, and on the intelligence services he left crippled in his wake.

Told with heart-pounding suspense and keen psychological insight, and based on personal papers and never-before-seen British intelligence files, A Spy Among Friends is Ben Macintyre’s best book yet, a high-water mark in Cold War history telling.

My thoughts: I agreed to review A Spy Among Friends delighted to have the opportunity to learn more about the men behind the history of this period in the World's story. Having been a young child during World War II and an adult during the Vietnamese War (conflict?), and remembering intensely the period of the Cold War when everything was suspect, Philby's story and events in his story really piqued my interest.

Sadly though, this book did not meet my expectations. I tried, really tried, on several occasions to get into the book. I skipped through various chapters to see if I could get a footing in what the author was doing. I could not, so I finally gave up. I found it without rhyme or reason and no sense of order or direction. Whose fault was this? Mine? The authors? I don't know, but I simply couldn't read this book that I so desired.

I gained enough perspective into what was the life of Philby to understand that he was a smooth operator and first class heel. He used people. He used society. He won the friendship and trust of people when he certainly did not deserve either. He betrayed virtually everyone and especially his own country. The amount of damage he caused will probably never be truly known because the files and annuals of spy-crafters Worldwide must by their very nature remain secret and hidden. That which has been revealed has shown the World that Philby was a betrayer first and foremost.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy through the Blogging For Books reviewing program in exchange for my review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Vannetta Chapman reveals hidden talent for romantic suspense with new release of "HIDDEN"

Today we're welcoming a favorite author of mine, Vannetta Chapman. Most readers who have heard her name know her for her excellent fiction revolving around the Amish and their communities. Always, her stories are faith filled - that is something that you can count on with Vannetta. Well, let's chat with her a bit, shall we?

Romantic suspense is a new genre for you. Why the change?

Actually suspense is probably my first-love as far as my own personal reading pile. It’s also the first thing I submitted to my agent, but romantic suspense wasn’t selling well at the time. Fortunately the publishers we submitted to liked my writing and asked me to write something else—AMISH. I’ve really enjoyed the genre, both the romances and the mysteries.

What would you like to tell us about HIDDEN? 

It’s set in Taos, NM, which I visited on my honeymoon 15 years ago. It is a suspense, but it also has a bit of humor and a lot of romance. I know that sounds like a lot of areas for one book to cover, but it came together very naturally.

Favorite memory of the Taos area? 

Hiking up a stream bed to fly fish with my husband and being caught in a summer hail storm. We sat on a log, under our parks, and waited it out – but that was a BIG CHANGE for this Texas girl.

This is an inspirational romantic suspense. What is your spiritual message in the story? 

You’ll read in the prologue about my character’s childhood, which was far from picture perfect. Dana keeps the scars of her past hidden, buried deep down. I think a lot of people are like this, walking around wounded. Though my childhood was absolutely all I could ask for, I’ve personally dealt with difficult situations with my extended family—there have even been a few family members who have been incarcerated (as Dana’s father is). God ultimately used those situations for good, but while we were going through them the future looked quite gloomy. I wanted to write a story that would show God’s grace and hope even in the midst of such troubles.

Talk a little about the romance in the story. 

Dana Jacobs is tough and smart and has risen to the top of her field as a local director of Homeland Security. Ben Marshall is a simple guy--just doing his job, a tad over eager, but dealing with his own past in the military. The difference is that Ben has his faith to strengthen him. He firmly believes that God guides his steps and that he has been placed on Dana’s team for a reason. He’s honest and true and faithful, everything a hero should be. The relationship thing is something he is clueless about, and dating his boss? That would be foolish. But God’s plans are not always the same as our plans, and I think readers will enjoy where this relationships goes.

You published this book independently. Tell us a little about that. 

Indie publishing is somewhat in its infancy. It’s easy enough to publish a book, but how do you help readers find it? Although I have had offers from traditional publishers to publish HIDDEN, I wanted to write a book where I could set the price at a low, affordable price. The ebook will remain at $3.99, which I think is a good price for an ebook. The paper book is a little more, since I had no control over production costs ($9.71 through Amazon and $12 for an autographed copy from my webpage). I like having control over things like that, and I’m looking forward to publishing the second book in this series in early 2015.

So what is next? 

Book 2 in the Jacob Family Series, which will tell the story of Dana’s sister. You’re going to love this one. My assistant says it is her all time favorite of all the books I’ve written. In addition I have 7 more Amish books coming out in the next two years. In December, I’ll release Murder Tightly Knit, and next year we’ll release Murder Freshly Baked (both Amish Village Mystery). I’ve also turned in book 1 of a new Plain & Simple Miracles series. It’s titled Anna’s Healing, and my prayer is that it will touch reader’s hearts and affirm their faith that God is still in the business of making miracles.

Parting words? 

Please give HIDDEN a try! You can read the first few chapters for free at Amazon and also at And thank you for having me on your blog!

GIVEAWAY: Vannetta has graciously agreed to bless one of Chat With Vera's readers with their own copy of  HIDDEN. Just use the Rafflecopter form below to try win your very own copy. Begins October 12 & ENDS November 17 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.

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Watch for Chat With Vera's review of HIDDEN coming soon!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Anavita Moisturizing Anti-Wrinkle Cream {Review & Giveaway}

Review: I have mixed feelings about this nice product. I like it and I don't like it. Sometimes something very good has negative aspects to it that are really just personal preferences and I think that is the cause of my ambience with the Anavita Moisturizing Anti-Wrinkle Cream. 

Beautifully package, the product is a bit dense and "waxy" feeling on my fingertips and when applied to my face. And thick sometimes clogs pore and no one wants that problem. But after it absorbs, the skin feels nice. In fact, after using it several days, I really like the way my skin feels in the mornings when I wake up. It is soft and looks pretty good. And no clogged pores.

I can recommend this product because I see it as beneficial and probably a good anti-wrinkle cream because it aids in protecting the skin and moisturizing it. 

Tips for using Anavita Moisturizing Anti-Wrinkle Cream (provided by Anavita)

  • Wash your face with a cleanser that is appropriate for your skin type.
  • The cream is thick and rich. To apply it evenly, place a pea-sized dollop on a finger and dab bits of the cream on the areas needing treatment. Then massage in the cream using gentle upward strokes.
  • You can eliminate several steps in your daily beauty regimen by using the cream twice daily. It serves as a day cream, night cream, wrinkle cream and make up base.
  • Not all skincare products work well together. For example, if you are using another brand of wrinkle cream on your face at night and wanted to use Anavita during the day, the night product could prevent Anavita from absorbing easily. To fix this issue, you would need to stop using your existing product and wait up to two weeks for it to leave your system. After that, Anavita would absorb normally.

GIVEAWAY: Anavita is providing a jar of their Moisturizing Anti-Wrinkle Cream for one of Chat With Vera's readers to win. Remember, this cream is suitable for either women or men to use to care for their skin. Open to USA addresses only. Begins October 11 & ENDS October 24 @ 12:01 a.m. ET.

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Product Description (provided by Anavita)

  • Combination of Hyaluronic acid, argireline and Matrixyl 3000.
  • Non-greasy rich cream which goes on easily and absorbs quickly.
  • Suitable for both women’s and men’s skin.
  • Not tested on animals.
  • Proven to stimulate the synthesis of collagen which makes your skin appear years younger & more vibrant 
  • Firms & tones tissue structure that cause expression lines around the eyes, mouth & forehead 
  • Multiple uses: anti wrinkle cream, moisturizer, day cream, night cream, makeup base 
  • Absorbs easily leaving a moisturized, not oily feeling with a light fragrance 
  • Paraben free, non-irritating cream helps against free radical damage 
  • Achieves better results than serums & creams with Vitamin C & Retinol
    As a company based in Tennessee, USA, we take great pride in our skin cream. The Anavita Moisturizing Anti-Wrinkle Cream is manufactured for us in Canada under strict Canadian cosmetic manufacturing guidelines.

    Friday, October 10, 2014

    The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts {Revew And Giveaway - USA & CANADA}

    About the book: Kara Tippetts knows the ordinary days of mothering four kids, the joy of watching her children grow…and the devastating reality of stage-IV cancer.

    In The Hardest Peace, Kara invites readers to see the grace of the everyday in all seasons of life and to live well even when the living is hard. This book is an invitation to join her in moving away from fear and control and toward peace and grace. Just as the thousands of people who read her blog know, Tippetts explores the hardest questions of life with rare beauty and honesty. Most of all, she draws them back to the God who is present, in the ordinary and the suffering, and shapes every life into the best story of all.

    My thoughts: Sometimes it seems you're thrown foul balls or fast curve balls and just can't win. Or it seems like you just can't handle it all. And sometimes you realize that the great God of the Universe, the Savior of mankind and of each individual man is there. He is waiting for you to realize that He is there and that He is the answer to your needs, your problems, your hurts, your life disasters. He is your peace in that hard place you have encountered.

    The author, Kara Tippetts, has a hard won peace. There are many who have been in that hard place and have encountered that hard peace - that peace that is truly unfathomable and so wonderful. The peace of God Himself.

    Just over four years ago, my middle daughter was diagnosed with an aggressive breast cancer. About the same time, I had a problem that required the removal of a mass. A month or so later, my husband was diagnosed with very aggressive Lymphoma. You know, some families just don't do things by "halves." They do it all at once.

    But how does one cope? How? Surgery - three times over. Chemo - for dear daughter and elderly husband. Rough. Hard. Body-wrenching hard. Then radiation. There were three surgeries. And I started thinking......  Three can represent God; because God is in three persons. God the Father. God the Son. God the Holy Spirit. We have a Triune God who loves us. And I have the Peace of God that is beyond understanding.

    In Kara's story, she presents the hard and the beautiful of this journey she and her beloved family traveled. She has a beautiful way with words and she causes my heart to both rejoice with her and weep. I want to share just a few of her words.....
    ".... we are not the author of our stories, but the characters." pg. 64
    "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9, pg. 118
    "I'm an extroverted embracer of people who feels the limit of her days." pg. 177
    "Finally, Jesus. The Author of me. Thank You for loving this weary, broken woman so well. Thank You for trusting me with the hard in today. Thank You for Your sacrifice for my depraved and broken heart. You died a death I could not, so today, this day, I can walk in grace - proclaiming the greatest story ever told. Your story. Your words made alive in me today. Thank You. Thank You for the life You have given me, and the time to honor and glorify You forever - this life and the next." pg. 183
    GIVEAWAY: Win a copy to bring a blessing to yourself or someone you wish to bless. Giveaway begins October 10 & ENDS October 23 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
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    About Kara:  Kara Tippetts and her husband, Jason, have four children and are planting a church in Colorado Springs, CO. Cancer is only part of Kara’s story. Her real fight is to truly live while facing a crushing reality. She blogs faithfully at
    Follow her on Instagram:
    Follow her on Twitter:
    Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

    Dr. Song Rosehip Oil (A Dr. Song Medical Product) {Review}

    When I was given the opportunity to try out and review Dr. Song Rosehip Oil, I was dubious. However, after reading what the Dr. Song brand purports the product to do, I thought I'd give it a try - primarily because my nails are brittle, splitty, and generally bad. Also, as a lady-of-a-certain-age my skin needs help and I thought perhaps something along the line of this rosehip oil might be just the thing.

    Never, never, never have I used an oil to care for my skin. Frankly, I don't even like a lotion that leaves an "oily" feel to my skin or leaves "oily" spots when I touch surfaces. So stepping "out-of-the-box" took a bit of bravery on my part.

    After using the Dr. Song Rosehip Oil for a couple of weeks - starting with just on my hands, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps this is a good type of product to use. But you really have to work your way into using it. No one wants to put it on their arms and legs and go sit on their furniture. So you have to plan. No one wants to apply it to their feet and go walking around leaving footprints on their floors. So the key is planning.

    I have used the rosehip oil on my arms, legs, and especially hands (those pesky nails, you know). After applying, you feel a bit oily, but it seems to dissipate nicely and fairly quickly. So I think the key is to apply it in the evening just prior to jumping in bed. Let it work overnight. I do believe I am seeing a difference in how my skin looks. So this is a product that I can recommend for folks to try. Also, it is not so much like a lady's product that men would be adverse to using.

    About the product (provided by Dr. Song Medical).....

    Dr Song Medical is a medical cosmetic laboratory that originally manufactured products for professionals, doctors, and medical facilities. Dr Song Medical products are made in the USA and is FDA compliant and a provider of professional products.

    100% Pure USDA Certified Organic Virgin Rosehip Seed Oil

    This oil is extracted from rose bush seeds, using a special process to preserve its natural cosmetic qualities, which includes containing high amounts of essential fatty acids, particularly linoleic and linolenic.

    An all natural luxurious and lightweight moisturizer. Quickly absorbs and deeply penetrates to heal, nourish and hydrate. Also used topically for wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, rashes, burns, acne scars, dry skin, dermatitis, age spots, brittle nails, psoriasis, eczema, hyper-pigmentation, radiation and sun damage, dry & damaged hair, anti-inflammatory.

    I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2014

    Holy Macaroni! Mom Bloggers Want to Learn About Kosher Foods by Wendy Hirschhorn - CEO of Wendy’s Bloggers

    For food manufacturers whose products are certified kosher, the good news is Mom Bloggers want to be educated.

    Whether or not Mom Bloggers personally maintain kosher lifestyles, the fact is they review food that is certified kosher. Being armed with basic facts about kosher dietary laws will enable them to spread this information to millions of moms.

    In a survey among Mom Bloggers in my network, 25% said they seek out kosher foods and 58% reported they do not know how to identify kosher foods. Remarkably, 86% want to learn more.

    “Kosher certification is a great value to consumers when they think about the food they eat and feed their children,” said Rabbi Moshe Elefant, chief operating officer of OU Kosher, the largest kosher certification agency in the world.

    The OU (Orthodox Union) certifies more than 500,000 products produced in more than 8,000 food facilities in 80 countries. It sends rabbis, who are trained in kosher certification, to inspect facilities – unannounced – on a periodic, on-going basis.

    “Foods that are certified kosher are attracting a growing number of consumers who like to know that the food they eat is supervised,” said Rabbi Elefant. “Some religious groups like Muslims and Seventh Day Adventists follow dietary guidelines similar to kosher rules.

    “Additionally, every certified kosher product also must carry a label if it contains dairy. This is particularly important to consumers who have dairy allergies or are lactose intolerant.

    “At the end of the day, kosher certification is a marketing decision,” said Rabbi Elefant. “A food advertisement may run a few times a week on TV or appear in monthly magazines, or once a week in newspapers, but the kosher symbol appears every day on every certified kosher product.”

    Many of the Mom Bloggers in my network perceive that kosher foods adhere to a higher standard. Typical among the comments in the survey were: “Kosher means the quality is better and that there is less stuff in the foods that I do not want my family eating;” “It’s cleaner than other products;” “It has no fillers;” and “There are no added chemicals.”

    So what are the kosher ABCs Mom Bloggers should be familiar with?
    According to Rabbi Elefant, there are three basic tenets:
    1. You can’t mix dairy and meat;
    2. You can’t eat certain animals, poultry or fish; and
    3. Animals must be slaughtered in a certain way and processed on kosher equipment.
    In our increasingly global world of processed foods it’s not easy to determine how ingredients are sourced and prepared. Food Manufacturers of certified kosher products can and should take pride that they are providing an extra layer of protection. Educating Mom Bloggers is a good place to start.
    Wendy Hirschhorn is CEO of Wendy’s Bloggers, a bridge for food manufacturers to create valuable relationships with Mommy Bloggers and their followers. For more information visit or contact Wendy at 212-826-8790 or

    DISCLOSURE: Article used with permission of Wendy Hirschhorn is CEO of Wendy’s Bloggers and originally published as an Article for The Griffin Report of Food Marketing - Submitted 8/18/14.

    Can I Come Too? by Brian Patten & Nicola Bayley {Review & Giveaway}

    About the book: A very small mouse decided it wanted to have a very big adventure. "I'll go and find the biggest creature in the world," it thought. Along the way it meets many different animals and when at last they find the biggest creature, the little mouse feels a great sense of achievement.

    My thoughts:  Gentle beauty. Caring and compassionate expressions on the critters faces. Lovely. Endearing. Well, what I'm trying to say is this is a lovely book that will endear  itself to you and your child. The artist has taken her art to a lovely level using the soft tones of watercolors and scenes from nature to bring delight to each page.

    The sweet story is about a tiny mouse who wanted a big  adventure finding the largest critter. As mousie talked about it, various critters asked, "Can I come, too?" I found it interesting - but maybe I read more into the story than is really there - that it began with a tiny mouse. Tiny mouse ended up being the leader to bigger and adventurous things.  If you read this in the story as I did, perhaps it could be teaching moment to encourage children to dream big even when they feel they are "small" or insignificant. 

    Most of all though, this is simply a lovely book. Now look at a few of the lovlies in the book with me......

    GIVEAWAY:  Peachtree Publishers has graciously agreed to provide one of Chat With Vera's readers their own copy of Can I Come, Too?. Simply use the Rafflecopter entry form below. Begins October 8 & ENDS October 29 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only. I received a review copy from Peachtree to facilitate this review. 

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    Monday, October 6, 2014

    'Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times' by Kelly Pulley (Review & Giveaway)

    About the book: The Magnificent Tales series are fun to read out loud, rhyming Bible stories with amazing art and clear lessons. Parents and grandparents won't cringe when asked to read these stories over for the one-hundredth time. Vibrant illustrations that even today's media-deluged kids will find entertaining.

    Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical TImes contains a collection of engaging Bible stories that have been written in fun-to-read rhyme and meter with a bit of humor mixed in. These are stories that the whole family will enjoy, so parents and grandparents won't grow tired of reading and re-reading them night after night. The humorous, contemporary illustrations will keep even kids from the Sponge Bob Square Pants generation laughing out loud while they learn important biblical messages. 

    This shows how Kelly Pulley develops his illustrations.
    First the line drawings and then he colors them in.

    My thoughts:  A number of years ago I encountered my first exposure to the use of cartoons to share the Gospel in the form of a tract. I had mixed feelings then because I feared the trivialization of God's Word was not treating it with the reverence and respect that should be accorded to it. I have, however, since then realized that there are many ways to share God's Word and different people have varied ways to learn and respond. So I therefore have tried to relax my personal views a bit.

    Kelly Pulley is an author and illustrator whose work I have previously reviewed and enjoyed. So it is with pleasure that I am sharing this Treasury of Bible Stories that he has created.

    As you can see from the shared pages depicted here, his art is colorful and very expressive while humorous and beguiling. Children will love these pictures. They make the stories come alive and fun for the children. While engaging for children, it is the parent's responsibility to also convey the serious nature of God's Word and that it is not to be taken lightly.

    Nature of some of the text of stories.....

    He cried, "I am Joseph! There's no need to fear!"
    Joseph wept, and he asked that his brothers come near.

    "Don't be worried by things in the past, for time's shown

    they were part of a plan only God could have known.

    "God made good out of things that were bad, so it seemed,

    by giving His guidance through dreams that were dreamed."

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
    Now Haman was known as the king's right-hand guy,

    The people all bowed as he strutted on by.

    They kneeled in respect,

    which made Haman feel great!

    But Mordecai wouldn't,

    which filled him with hate!
    I personally still prefer more "life like" illustrations without the cartoon characterization, but accept that this form of story telling and art can certainly get the job done and do it well.
    GIVEAWAY:  One of Chat With Vera's readers is going to receive their own copy of Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times. Will it be you? Use the Rafflecopter entry form below. Begins October 7 & ENDS October 30 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. Open to USA addresses only.

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    About the author: Born in Indiana, Kelly Pulley has called Middle Tennessee home for the past sixteen years. He began his career as a graphic artist in a leading sportswear screen-printing company in his hometown. He remained in that industry for seventeen years before taking a full-time position illustrating the Beginner's Bible series of books. Currently, he works from home freelance illustrating as well as writing and illustrating children's picture books. When he's not working, he's spending time with his four children or riding his bicycle, enjoying the beautiful Middle TN countryside. 

    Read more reviews of Rhythmical Rhymes of Biblical Times here
    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse in exchange for this review. Opinion expressed are solely my own. No compensation was received for this review.