Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Last Heiress by Mary Ellis

22544234What a delight to read a book set in the town I grew up in, Wilmington, North Carolina. The time was the final days and months of  the Civil War and the last remaining sea port for the Confederacy was about to fall. Fortified by Fort Fisher, the mouth of the Cape Fear River was just a few miles down river from Wilmington.

I learned bits and pieces of Wilmington’s history as I turned the pages of Mary Ellis’s novel, The Last Heiress. Well researched, I roamed familiar streets and recalled houses from that era that are still standing in Wilmington. Scenes took place near my childhood home. Third Street, Orange Street, Ann Street, Castle Street – all familiar and all where the characters of The Last Heiress walked.

A very enjoyable read and a pleasure to roam my hometown albeit was many years prior to my actual arrival on the scene.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ella Bella Ballerina and the Midsummer Night's Dream by James Mayhew [Release date October 2015] Review & Giveaway (US & Canada)

ISBN: 9780764167973Hardcover $14.99
Ages 4-8
About the book: When Ella learns the story of A Midsummer Night's Dream, she's transported into a magical fairyland. Can Ella help Puck win back Queen Titania's love for King Oberon? Includes beautiful illustrations, a brief passage about Shakespeare's comedy, and facts about Felix Mendelssohn's music.

My thoughts: I believe children should be introduced to classical music at an early age. Appreciation for beautiful music will afford them many moments of delight, enchantment, imagination, relaxation, and joy through the years. The younger they are exposed to beautiful music the more their minds, emotions, and bodies will embrace the beauty. Also being introduced gently to the works of Shakespeare nudges them toward the classics in literature.

Little Ella Bella is a wee little ballerina and this time she meets Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and learns to let her imagination soar as her feet prance and her body twirls. She learns the story. She delights in the music. She is a lovely little girl embracing beauty with her heart, mind, and body. And she is being allowed to be a child and a lovely little girl.
Ella, Puck, and little fairies fly across the night sky.

The illustrations are beautifully done in whimsical light strokes feathering through the pages in lovely soft pastels giving the whole a dreamy feel to the reader. The story, while introducing the young to a classic, is done beautifully using little Ella Bella who dreams of becoming a famous ballerina. Little Ella truly floats through the story immersed with Puck and the other fairies and elves.
After her dream dance, Ella is alone on the stage
 and her lovely flowers are beside her.

 I suggest that parents (or teachers in a classroom or library setting) read the story, share the pictures, and listen to the music. (Note: Music is not provided with the book, but do provide it for your little ones.) Let your young audience experience A Midsummer Night's Dream for themselves and see little Ella Bella in their mind's eye as she whirls and twirls.

GIVEAWAY - 2 Winners
#1: Entire 5-book Series Ella Bella Ballerina
#2: 1 Copy  Midsummer Night's Dream
Begins August 29 & ENDS September 21 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA & CANADA addresses only. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author/illustrator, James Mayhew exquisitely illustrated A Midsummer Night's Dream with keen imagination and colorful art. He is an award-winning author and illustrator of many children's books, including the popular Ella Bella Ballerina series. His special love for opera and ballet is reflected in many of his stories and illustrations. He lives with his wife and son in Letchworth Garden City, England. A brief passage at the back of the book tells the story of William Shakespeare's beloved comedy and includes some interesting facts about Felix Mendelssohn's enthralling music.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Barron's Educational to facilitate this review. Opinions are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review. Winner/s will be notified via the email they have registered with their entry. They will have 48 hrs. to respond. Failure to respond will result in a different winner being randomly chosen. 1st place is to first chosen and 2nd place is to 2nd chosen - both randomly by Rafflecopter.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Bridge Builder: The Life And Continuing Legacy Of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein (An Authorized Biography) by Zev Chafets [Review & Giveaway-US & Canada]

ISBN13: 9781591846789
About the book: The amazing story of Yechiel Eckstein, a Chicago-based orthodox rabbi who founded the world’s largest philanthropic organization of Evangelical Christians in support of Israel.

When the Anti-Defamation League sent a young Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein to Chicago to foster interfaith relations in the late 1970’s, he was surprised to see how responsive Christian evangelicals were to the cause of supporting and defending Israel.

Eckstein founded The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews in 1983 to promote cross-cultural understanding and build broad support for Israel, Soviet Jewry, and other shared concerns. The Fellowship has grown and thrived over the last three decades, raising more than $1.1 billion, and is one of the largest 50 NGOs in America today. American Christians have become one of Israel’s most reliable sources of financial and moral support.  

Few people realize that Eckstein and The Fellowship have done an unprecedented good deed in bridging an ancient cultural gap. Renowned journalist Zev Chafets explores Eckstein’s role in this important interfaith evolution, showing how an American rabbi made major progress in promoting dialogue, cooperation, and mutual respect in the face of harsh and unrelenting opposition. 

My thoughts: In The Bridge Builder we get a glimpse into the life of a devout conservative Jewish man who loves God and who wishes to live by God’s laws and precepts. A man who thinks beyond the day to day existence of life as a conservative Jewish man who studies in the traditional Jewish schools and under the tutelage of leaders of their religion. He becomes a Rabbi and a controversial Rabbi amongst his peers.

Delving into the life and beliefs of Christians and how Christianity’s roots came from the Jewish God, Eckstein seeks to understand. But his seeking is not toward embracing Christianity for himself, it is toward the goal of how he can encourage faithful Christians to support Jewish needs.  To this extent he is building bridges between the two faith communities.

Because evangelical Christians believe that God mandates that we love, care for, and cherish God’s chosen people, the Jews, Eckstein has opened the door so that they can have avenues to funnel that care. And the donations began to come in. Small at first and then in unprecedented amounts. These funds have been used to resettle Jews into Israel, to provide food, shelter, and warmth for destitute elderly Jews in Russia, etc.

Eckstein’s early life is interesting and the ways his faith community “shunned” (not the Jewish term) him because of his own actions and beliefs is disturbing. Also, his convoluted journey to becoming who he is and how he conceived and built “The Fellowship” is an interesting story. 

The author, Zev Chafets, writes an excellent biography and the reading was easy and kept my interest. He captured the essence of a man who has met with and worked with a number of big names in the Christian, Jewish, entertainment, and political worlds. And while a rule breaker, he is nevertheless, a faithful law-keeper of Jewish law. 

He has bridged a gap that has existed for eons where the Christian community has shunned, hated, and persecuted the Jews. Let us hope that equally the gap between God and man can be bridged so that man can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Begins August 27 & ENDS September 4 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA & CANADA addresses only. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
About the author: Zev Chafets is the bestselling author of fourteen books of fiction, media criticism, and social and political commentary.  He has been a frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine and is a former columnist for the New York Daily News. 

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.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Youth Glow Eye Gel Serum from GoPure Naturals

  • #gopureeyegel
I regularly use either an eye cream or an eye gel to care for the tender skin around my eyes. Through the years I have had dark circles and in recent years have seen these grow worse. The dark circles are intensified by my allergies which cause puffy skin and circles. Perhaps there is not a product that will truly rid me of these, but I do what I can to care for the tender skin and hopefully alleviate some of the problem.

First and foremost, the products I use must NOT irritate the skin nor migrate into the eye causing further irritation. If a product does this, it is dispensed with quickly. Secondly, it must feel good on my skin. My eyes tend to be tender and easily irritated, so I certainly don't want to worsen that tendency.

How does the GoPure Youth Glow Eye Gel Serum work for me? Well, it has not brought back the look of youth to this lady of-a-certain-age, but it hasn't worsened either. It feels pleasant on my skin. On days when my eyes are most tender, I sense a slight tingling sensation which is not unpleasant or irritating - it just "is." It has NOT migrated into the eye.

The vote is still out as far as Chat With Vera is concerned as to which is best - creams or gels. I like both. I can certainly appreciate the plus factors for gels as outlined below in the product information. I can give the Youth Glow Eye Gel Serum a vote of confidence.

From the product information source: 

What the GoPure Naturals Eye Serum actually Does - This serum provides a number of benefits of your eyes and face area. It is designed to provide the following benefits:
  • Reduction in the appearance of dark circles under the eyes
  • Reduction of puffiness under the eyes
  • Helps to restore the elasticity of your skin around your eyes
  • Helps to minimize fine lines, crow’s feet and wrinkles that are present around the eyes
  • Enhances the tone and the firmness of your skin where the serum is applied
Why this Eye Serum is Better than Eye Creams? - There are a number of benefits offered by using this eye serum, instead of a regular eye cream. These benefits go beyond what is listed above and include:
  • An eye serum is much lighter and more fluid than a traditional eye cream.
  • The serum is able to absorb into the skin much more easily than creams.
  • The serum will not leave any type of soapy or greasy residue behind after being applied.
  • They are also much less likely to go into your eye, which may result in irritation.

Seeing the Results of the GoPure Naturals Eye Serum

If you have taken the time to select the right type of eye serum for your type of skin, and use it on a regular basis, then there is a high likelihood that you will see a difference in just a few weeks of applying the serum. The wrinkles, puffiness and dark circles that are present should begin to appear less noticeable as time passes.

Summary of the GoPure Naturals Eye Serum

This serum will quickly absorb into your skin to deliver the nutrients in order to provide you with dramatic results. Used regularly you will find that there is a reduction in the saggy and puffiness around your eyes, as well as the dark circles and wrinkles. Additionally, the serum will increase the elasticity, plumps the skin and firms the thin skin around your eyes. It will also help to improve the texture and tone of your skin, by hydrating the delicate area of the eyes, in order to prevent any premature aging.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for the review.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

MARTIAN MUSTACHE MISCHIEF by Brian Rock & illustrated by Joshua Dawson [Review & Giveaway}

About the book: Earth has been invaded by Mars! What do they want? How can we defend against them? And why do they look like little mustaches?!?!  Join the out-of-this-world fun as our narrator enlists help from readers to repel the “Red Menace.” Discover why ketchup is so important to Mars. Learn one of the toughest tongue twisters in the galaxy as you join the fight to save earth and its most precious resource from alien domination!

My thoughts: The illustrator, Joshua Dawson, has taken Brian Rock's silly little story about a Martian invasion and brought life to it in cartoon style. Wide-eye, big-head people suddenly sprout mustaches which are in fact the Martians.

I'm guessing the reason the Martian-mustaches are attaching themselves to people is to gather as much ketchup as possible  on the mustaches. The Martians want to re-color Mars so it will be red again and they want lots of ketchup to do it.

The little book doesn't teach a lesson. It isn't history-making literature. It is just silly and fun, and children sometimes simply need silly and fun. And more fun will entail as kiddies try to wrap their own tongues around the MMM (Martian Mustache Mischief) tongue twister!

Thanks to Brian Rock for reaching out to Chat With Vera for a review of his little book. I previously reviewed his Deduction Detective which is educational, entertaining, and cute fun.
Begins August 20 & ENDS September 2 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
About the author: Published: THE DEDUCTIVE DETECTIVE, (Sylvan Dell) was a featured title of the month by the Children’s Book Council (Feb 2013.); and WITH ALL MY HEART, DON’T PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD! and PIGGIES. Children’s Poet Laureate, Kenn Nesbitt will be featuring one of his poems in his forthcoming anthology of poetry (2016). He has a master’s degree in Children’s Literature/Creative Writing from Hollins University. His poems
for children have appeared in Highlights for Children, Poetry Train, and
various regional publications. He is a former teacher and a current
member of SCBWI.

DISCLOSURE:  I received a complimentary copy from the author in exchange for this review and opinions are my own. I was not compensated. Winner's copy is also provided by the author and will be sent directly to them.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fossil Hunter Lottie Doll engenders intelligent play and positive role model for young children (Sold Internationally)

Product information: It’s the summer holidays and Lottie can’t wait to go to Lincoln Cliff Beach to look for fossils. With her special rock hammer and backpack full of useful gear, Lottie is ready for an adventure at the cliffs by the sea. It is so exciting to think that she might make her own scientific discovery! What will she find? An ammonite? A bone from a plesiosaur? Or maybe even a dinosaur…!


  • Olive coloured gilet puffa vest
  • Turquoise blue polo short with an ammonite shell design print
  • Cargo shorts
  • Sturdy boots & Orange and white stripe socks
  • Baseball cap
  • A rucksack 
  • Fossil hunting tools (magnifying glass, trowel and geology hammer)
  • Four ammonite fossils
  • Special collector cards about the British female fossil hunter Mary Anning
  • Notable women in paleontology additional sheet
  • Special Edition Gold Collection
The Special Edition ‘Gold Collection’ ‘Fossil Hunter’ Lottie doll is a collaboration with TrowelBlazers, an Anglo-American group of women archaeologists, palaeontologists and geologists.

Now what does "Vera" say about Fossil Hunter Lottie?..............

It is getting very difficult for parents (and grandparents) to find toys that are truly age appropriate on the market today. There are too many young children playing with dolls that are buxom (beyond natural proportions), focused on the "get-it-now" mindset, and loaded with glamour and glitz. Children need to be children.

Finally, a toy maker that has approached doll making with the young girl in mind. Dolls designed to look like and be proportioned like that of a nine year old. No glitz. No glamour. No flashy. Simply little girl stuff. And the stuff of little girls is and does include reaching for the stars, thinking upward and beyond, and expressing desires to achieve more and more and in a more varied field of achievement.
Fossil Hunter Lottie is geared up and ready!
Study boots! Cap! Cargo pockets on shorts!
Comfortable clothes.
Backpack to hold the tools of being a Fossil Hunter!
Lottie dolls has a line of positive role model dolls that are so cute and so "playable." I recently purchased Stargazer Lottie and had it sent to my granddaughter. Today, I'm showing you Fossil Hunter Lottie Doll (which will also travel to my granddaughter). Fossil Hunter has the tools of the trade. First of all her outfit is suitable to be out and about digging, chipping, and searching for fossils. The little tools, designed to fit her hands, that will help her dig and chip.
The imaginative play of girls helps set the stage 
for their future desires and ambitions.
Positive Role Model
Award Winner
With the Lottie dolls they will see toys that appear much like they, themselves, do. Young, innocent, and proportioned like their own body. They will have the opportunity to play with dolls that engender acquirable futures for themselves or fun activities in which they themselves would normally participate. A fine example of this is the Gold Collection Lottie dolls of which Fossil Hunter Lottie is one.

Play is the work of children

I can see this gifted at Christmas or birthday time so that special child in your life can play with Fossile Hunter and actually be a digger, rock collector, and fossil hunter! (See my review of Lottie English Country Garden)

It is with delight that I will be able to share this delightful doll with one of my granddaughters!
Award-winning, childlike dolls, that empower young minds and nurture individuality through play
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary product of Fossil Hunter Lottie to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own, alone, and happily shared. I was not compensated in anyway for this review.  Lottie on Amazon (Arklu)

Frugally Fine Food with a Chicken

I was asked for a frugal recipe, so I immediately thought of the following.  It is not a "recipe" per se, just a way to cook nourishing food frugally.  It may appear that it lacks sufficient meat, but I assure you, Americans eat much too much meat.  You will find that cooking a chicken in this manner provides flavor and nourishment.

This is not a specific recipe, but it is a frugal way to use chicken and make one chicken go for 2 or 3 meals.
  • Purchase 1 chicken about 4 lbs.
  • A bag of white rice (or whatever rice you prefer, but white is what is traditional in our house for this dish)
  • A stalk of celery if you have it on hand
  • A small onion quartered, or part of a larger one
  • Salt & pepper
Boil whole chicken in a large pot covered in water along with the salt, pepper, celery, and onion until tender. Please leave the skin and fat on as this enhances the flavor.

After it is done, cool in the liquid. Then lift cooled chicken from liquid onto a plate and begin the process of removing the meat from the bones. Be sure you get all the tiny slivers attached to the tiny bones.

Now you need to decide how much rice you need for your family. I would cook 1 1/2 cups rice for a family of 6 or 1 cup for a family of 4. Measure out the amount of liquid (including fat unless you are on a diet that prohibits it) that is needed to cook the quantity of rice you need for your family. Cook rice in chicken liquid until about half done. Then put about 1/3 of the chicken meat into pot, stir slightly, and finish cooking. I favor using the tiny pieces and the dark meat for this dish.

Serve this rice & chicken dish along with green peas and a salad or green peas and carrots.

This is a particularly tasteful meal on a cold winter night or when you have had sickness in the home.

Cost: Very low.

The remaining 2/3 of the chicken meat. Plan to make a small batch of chicken salad with 1/3. You can even use elbow macaroni to extend it.

Last 1/3 of the chicken: Plan to make a small casserole with broccoli spears, soup, mayonnaise, chopped onion, and stuffing mix for topping. Lots of casserole veggies and stuffing make the meat go further. Plus, you will have the chicken liquid to mix with the soup/s and the stuffing mix. Great flavor.

Last but not least, you may have some of the chicken liquid left over.  Be sure you save it to cook veggies in or to use as a soup base.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

90 Minutes In Heaven movie about Pastor Don Piper (Plus a book giveaway)

"90 Minutes In Heaven" will be in theaters everywhere September 11th. This is an incredible true story of a family that overcame life’s biggest obstacles.
The story..... Pastor Don Piper died January 18, 1989 when a semi-tractor truck crushed his car.  Declared dead by the first rescue workers to arrive on the scene, Don's body lay under a tarp for the next 90 minutes.  Don's soul, meanwhile, was experiencing love, joy, and life like he'd never known before.  Don was in Heaven.  

When another pastor's prayers helped bring Don back to life, he became a living miracle!  Yet this is one miracle Don wished never happened.  Heaven's bliss was replaced by excruciating pain and emotional turmoil.  With the support and prayers of his beloved Eva, their three kids, and friends near and far, Don clings to his faith in God and fights to regain a semblance of his previous life.  The Piper family's incredible true story of perseverance and overcoming the challenges of life - and death - will bring hope and encouragement to all who see it.

Now a feature length film has been made telling Pastor Don Piper's story of his death by vehicular accident and how 90 minutes later he was declared alive again. The film shows his recovery and how prayer worked in his life to bring about his recovery. Watch trailer here...

I viewed the opening scene (4 minutes) which depicts a family scene of a loving, normal family eating breakfast. Dad leaves, and while driving in a rain storm has an accident.  The family is Southern and speaks with a heavy Southern accent which is a detraction to me and I'm a Southern Lady. However, the value and story of the film far outweighs this small detraction.

About Giving Films:  Giving Films is passionate about sharing hope-filled movies and donating ALL of their profits to charities and ministries who serve those in need.  Beginning with their first film, 90 Minutes In Heaven, Giving Films is allowing all of us to be a part of making a difference.  Anytime you go to a Giving Films movie in theaters, visit and select which charities you want to receive the profits from your ticket.  Their charitable organizations are Christian Alliance for Orphans, Faith Bridge Foster Care, Hire Heroes USA, Hope International, LifeWater, Street Grace, and World Vision.

I am pleased to offer the special movie edition book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, for one of Chat with Vera's readers.

Begins August 15 & ENDS August 31 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of 90 Minutes in Heaven (book) and one of my readers will receive a copy. Both copies provided courtesy of FlyBy Promotions Publicity Group. I have not viewed the movie but have viewed a 4 minute opening scene and the trailer. The movie is rated PG13 because of intense accident and injury scenes.

DISCLAIMER: I have not seen the full movie nor have I read the book. I feel confident in supporting the release of this movie and the re-release of the book because of the incredible recovery Mr. Piper made and because he glorifies God in sharing his experience and concept of what his "90 Minutes in Heaven" was like.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue by Robert J. Skead with Robert A. Skead (American Revolutionary War Adventures)

About the book: A Revolutionary War action-thriller filled with spies and heroes, targeted to boys and girls 8-12. In this second book in the American Revolutionary War Adventure series, twins Ambrose and John Clark find themselves volunteering for another mission to help the newly forming United States of America. Inspired by their success in delivering a secret message to General George Washington himself, the boys step up to help transport much-needed gunpowder to the patriots and end up in an even more dangerous situation, manning one of the first submarines and then, later, attempting a prison break to rescue their older brother, Berty.

Written by Robert Skead with the help of his father, the main character is based on their ancestor who fought in the American Revolution as part of the Connecticut militia. Though historical fiction, the events that occurred with George Washington in New Jersey regarding the war effort are true.

My thoughts: I previously, with my granddaughter, reviewed Patriots, Redcoats & Spies and am so very pleased to again review a book in the American Revolutionary War Adventures series penned by the father/son team of The Robert Skeads. These books take me back in my memories to when my children (now with grown children of their own) read a similar series - "We Were There." Placing young teens in the midst of a historical event is a sure-fire way to grasp the reader's attention immersing them in the story and in history.

The twin boys are charged with the task of moving the volatile gunpowder stashed in the newly designed and experimental submarine. True they are towing it behind their own small boat and Ambrose is the most skilled sailor available to handle the task.

They know, or suspect, that there is a loyalist spy amongst the patriots and this means danger.

While the book will appeal to ages 8-12 boys or girls, I personally expect the boys will find it more appealing than girls. There are scenes that involve violence - fights, knives at the throat, etc. There is a war going on, so some of this is to be expected. The level of description of these events is well within the tolerance of the intended audience, but it is there.

At the back of the book there is a wonderful glossary and other historical information. This is a real plus. There are also some discussion questions.

As the second in the American Revolutionary War Adventures, this is a winner. The book concludes with a teaser that the boys just might have another adventure waiting for them around the next bend in the road.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Blog Review Program to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

Protected (Jacobs Family Series) by Vannetta Chapman [Review & Giveaway]

About the book: ERIN JACOBS doesn’t hesitate when she receives a desperate call in the middle of the night. As owner of the Noah’s Ark Animal Shelter, it’s her job to rescue animals. But from the start, this case is different.

The woman’s frantic plea.
Directions to a deserted hunter’s cabin.
Insistence that she come alone.
Then she’s looking down into a washtub at an infant child.

Erin’s life changes irrevocably when she becomes involved with a mother who has lost all hope, an orphaned child, millions of dollars and a father who might do anything to get his hands on the money. Social worker TRAVIS WILLIAMS is assigned to her case. Travis sees more in Erin than someone who rescues strays. She’s unconventional, strong-willed, and caring. It could be that she would make the perfect parent for Josh.

Before he can work through his feelings and file his report, the situation takes another dangerous turn. Can Erin and Travis guarantee Josh’s safety? To do so, they’ll need to rely on one another, their families, and the faith of their childhood.
My thoughts: The first book in the Jacobs Family series, Hidden, was the story of Dana. In Protected the story line is picked up with Dana's sister, Erin, being the main character. The male protagonist is Travis William. The two sisters had a terrible home leaving them with emotional scars that affected their relationships with individuals and community. With Erin, this was further compounded by the accidental death of both foster parents at the same time. Erin withdrew into a shell of independence and isolation. Her main life focus as the story picks up is on rescuing and caring for animals and sheltering them in The Ark which is a farm she inherited.

Unexpectedly, she receives a call in the middle of the night to go deep into the woods for a rescue. Undaunted, she overcomes her deep rooted fear of the dark woods and goes. Finding not an animal in need of rescue but a beautiful baby boy. Her heart is smitten.

Knowing that children must be reported to social services when abandoned, she makes her belated report and Travis Williams enters the scene. From this point on in the story Erin's heart, soul, and mind are bent on protecting little Joshua and Travis' full intent is to see that Joshua receives the care and attention he needs as an infant from Erin.

So often social workers receive a bad name for interference but in this case Travis interferes and intrudes only in a good way. He does, however, find himself drawn emotionally to both Erin and little Joshua. Erin finds herself drawn emotionally to Travis and is slow to accept this for herself. This entanglement must be held in check because of his relationship of Travis to Erin and Joshua as the case worker.

I found the story to be interesting and warming to my heart to see such devotion in Erin's rescue of abandoned Joshua and the firm, intentional, and loving care of the social worker, Travis. The underlying  theme of God's grace attributed greatly to this story and enriching to read.

The author has chosen to self-publish this series. In doing so, I have found that exposure for the books is limited. That is a shame for I find these books a welcome addition to the contemporary Christian fiction market.

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 August 14 & ENDS September 8 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author: Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, won the 2012 ACFW Carol Award for best mystery. She writes Amish mysteries for Zondervan, Amish romances for Harvest House and Amish novellas for Thomas Nelson. All of her books have been Christian Book Distributor bestsellers. Protected is her second inspirational romantic suspense. Chapman lives in the Texas hill country with her husband, pets and a herd of deer.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sprouts Voice Remedy with Proprietary Herbal Blend + FLASH GIVEAWAY

Sprouts Voice Remedy is designed to relieve Hoarseness in a safe, natural way. By reducing inflammation, getting rid of stubborn phlem and opening the nasal passage. Sprouts Voice Remedy has been proven to produce a voice that is smooth and clear and helps you getting back the ring in your voice.

  • Sprout's Voice Formula is a unique blend of natural herbs to restore your voice.
  • Ideal for Voice Hoarseness, Laryngitis, Inflammation and to loosen stubborn Phlegm.
  • Made in a GMP certified facility.
  • Kof K Kosher Certified

My thoughts: I was given the opportunity to try this product that is designed to help clear up your voice. For years when I sang solos at church, there were occasions when my voice simply needed some help. I couldn't find any and so sometimes I simply had to cancel. My days of solo work in church and funerals are past, but I still enjoy singing and, of course, I like for my voice to be clear when I converse with folks as well.

I found that the Sprout's Voice Formula is very pleasant to take. So many herbal products are simply nasty tasting, but not so with Sprout's. I also found that it definitely helps alleviate the hoarseness and scratchy throat. 

I feel that this is a good product to have on hand and will definitely keep it around. I can't wait to see how it helps when I get one of those dreadful "sick throats."

BEGINS 8/14/15 9:00 A.M. & EDT
ENDS 8/16/15 12:01 A.M. EDT
Open to US addresses ONLY
a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary product to facilitate this review as a Tomoson Review Blogger. I received no compensation. Opinion expressed is solely my own.

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason (Book 1, Courage to Dream Series) [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: As in most any family, there are some you love a lot, some you tolerate, and some you just have a lot of trouble liking, loving, or even being around.  In the O'Leary family that is true as well. Rife with character flaws, most of the O'Learys find that they must make changes if life is to be doable for them. 

This is a successful Irish family whose success has been built on hard work and intelligence of the immigrant father, Mr. O'Leary. He is an arrogant, domineering man bent on controlling all in his world. That involves making sure that at all costs his little financial empire and beloved "Irish Meadows" horse farm continues to succeed even if dependent on the marriages of his own children in loveless marriages simply for the sake of position and money.

This means, too, that the man he has raised as a son, but who is not in fact blood-kin must also marry to save to family fortune.

A very distant cousin of the family mother arrives from Ireland to continue his study and work at becoming a priest. His involvement with the family becomes more complicated than simply distant relative and counselor in the faith.

This glimpse into life in 1911 and the Irish family is interesting. It shows the Catholic faith of the family as important to them.

I enjoyed the story and the look at how life was during this time period. I accept the fact that in this family, as in most Irish immigrants, their Catholic faith was primary to them. I think, though, that some who are not of the Catholic faith might not appreciate this fact. One has to understand that Irish immigrants were very involved with and dependent upon the Catholic church and their faith.

Purchase a copy, read more reviews, more information - click here

About the book: Time and Place: 1911, Long Island, New York -Faced With an Uncertain Future, Sometimes All You Have Left Is the Courage to Dream

Brianna and Colleen O'Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he's put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry---as long as her father's choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone's plans.

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O'Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

Begins August 11 & ENDS August 31 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the author and publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are strictly my own. I was not compensated for this review. Giveaway copy is provided compliments of Litfuse and sent directly to winner.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

New from Margaret Wise Brown (author of Goodnight Moon) GOODNIGHT SONGS: A CELEBRATION OF THE SEASONS: Illustrated by 12 Award-Winning Picture Book Artists [Review & Giveaway]

Goodnight Moon occupies a warm spot in the heart of a multitude of children (now grown) and their parents (now aged). The author, Margaret Wise Brown, died an untimely death in 1952 but her memory lives on in the hearts and minds of those exposed to the sweet beauty of Goodnight Moon.
A Celebration of the Seasons at Sterling Children's Books
Fluffy clouds, butterflies, furry bunnies,
and life from a bug's-eye view

The following information was provided by Sterling Publishing:  
It’s a little-known fact that Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary author behind Goodnight Moon, had contracts with three different record companies. It was her dream to do for children’s music what she had done for picture books; yet by the time of her untimely death at age 42, only a handful of her songs had been produced. The rest, hundreds of unpublished poems and manuscripts, were packed in a trunk in her sister’s barn where they sat for decades.
Now, Sterling Children’s Books seeks to realize Brown’s dream with Goodnight Songs: A Celebration of the Seasons, the follow up to the New York Times best selling Goodnight Songs. As with the original, this collection brings together twelve of the poems that were discovered in Brown’s sister’s home—all but two of which have never before been published—and sets each to an original score by musicians Tom Proutt and Emily Gary.
Each of Brown’s songs is further brought to life through gorgeous illustrations by twelve award-winning artists. The roster of celebrated names includes Peter Brown, whose books have earned numerous honors, including a Caldecott Honor, a Horn Book Award, two E. B. White Awards, a Children’s Choice Award for Illustrator of the Year, and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award; David Small, whose many awards include the Caldecott Medal and two Caldecott Honors; and Coretta Scott King Award winner Floyd Cooper. Children will enjoy poring through the book’s illustrations over and over again as they listen to the accompanying CD of Brown’s sweet lullabies.
My thoughts: I was given the opportunity to review A Celebration of the Seasons published by Sterling Publishing and absolutely delighted to do so. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and listening to the songs. The book is beautifully illustrated showing each of the seasons fittingly illustrated and in keeping with the words of the "poem" for that season.

After her songs were found, then gentle folksy, blue-grassy, ballad style music was added. The result is this lovely book, A Celebration of the Seasons, with accompanying CD tucked into a little pocket ready to be played so kiddies can sing along.

This is reminiscent of records I had for my children (grown now). I especially recall a Burl Ives record and "book." Lovely songs sung by the legend of the folk ballad himself, Mr. Ives. This type of book with accompanying record was a vision of Margaret Wise Brown that has now been fulfilled with her own works.

What are my favorites in the book? Oh my that is so difficult to choose. I particularly enjoyed "Cherry Tree" because it encompasses the passing of the seasons of the Cherry Tree and the child's interaction around the tree. It is sweet, simple, salient.

"There was a time When the cherries were red That I lay on the grass and they fell on my head" .... "But now my dear tree Where the cherries were red Is frozen and gray, The birds are all fled.".....

I love the wonderful variety of illustrations for the seasons. The publisher was particularly astute in selecting the 12 artists because their interpretation artistically adds a dimension of richness to this book already so rich in heritage.

Click to "listen to" some songs of A Celebration of the Seasons 
(You'll drifting high, high up in the sky, etc.)

I simply enjoyed this book and know when I pass it along to my grandchildren they, too, will spend many hours within its pages and listening to these sweet songs.
Begins August 12 & ENDS September 3 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary product to facilitate this review by Sterling Publishing. Opinions expressed are my own. Product information was provided by Sterling Publishing. Giveaway copy is provided by Sterling shipped by them to the winner. I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason (Book 1 Courage to Dream Series) [Giveway]

Time and Place: 1911, Long Island, New York -Faced With an Uncertain Future, Sometimes All You Have Left Is the Courage to Dream

Brianna and Colleen O'Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he's put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry---as long as her father's choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone's plans.

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O'Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father's machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

Begins August 11 & ENDS August 31 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 Watch for Chat With Vera's review on August 16!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Tips: White clothes laundry and care of sheets

A young mother recently asked how to keep her lovely new white sheets white and fresh looking. I shared the following information. While I'm not a laundry expert, I am a Southern Lady-of-a-certain-age that has raised five wonderful children. Back in the day..... We had no dryer other than a clothes line strung out in the backyard and God's wonderful sunshine. Now I have a dryer and dearly love it. My sheets and whites are all nice and white and I do most (except the line drying of clothes) that I am sharing below.

There is nothing like good old sunshine to keep whites white. Of course, line drying is cumbersome and clothes can be a bit stiff.

For modern laundry I would suggest you always make certain nothing is washed with your white clothes. Only wash the white-white items. Not off white and no colors.

Use a good, quality detergent. Wash frequently. Perspiration stains don't show for awhile, but they get in there and do their damage creating stains that are nearly impossible to remove. Plus, perspiration that stays in clothes, sheets, and pillow cases long tends to rot fabric sooner.

Use bleach rarely.

The oxy detergents should help.

Tips on sheet care: 

  1. Remember rotate, rotate, rotate. Top to bottom. Bottom to top. 
  2. If drying sheets on a clothes line, do not fold them over the line. This causes more wear and tear on the sheet down the center. Put ends together and pin the corners and center of the hemmed edges to the clothes line. 
  3. Wash pillow cases a bit more often for health reasons as well as the fact that hair and face oils are bad for their care as well as how they look and last.
  4. Bleach is not very good if sheets have synthetic fibers as these tend to yellow when bleach is used.
  5. If you have well water with minerals, BLEACH can interact with these minerals causing staining of general yellowing of fabric. 

Hope this helps a bit.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

A House Divided by Robert Whitlow

About the book: A father's mistakes nearly cost his children everything. Now his children must unite to take on the most important case of their respective careers.

Corbin Gage is slowly drinking himself into the grave while running a small law practice in a small Georgia town. The assistant DA in the same community is his son Ray, poised for a professional breakthrough based on a job offer to work for the best law firm in the area. Roxy is Corbin's daughter, a rising star associate in Atlanta for an international law firm that specializes in high stakes, multi-million-dollar litigation.

Against the advice of everyone in his life, Corbin Gage takes on a toxic tort case on behalf of three boys who have contracted non-Hodgkin's lymphoma due to an alleged chemical exposure. The defendant, a herbicide/pesticide/fertilizer company, is the largest employer in the area. Because of the lawsuit, Ray's job offer evaporates, forcing him to go to work with his father. Roxy's expertise in complex litigation draws her into the drama.

As their investigation uncovers an audacious conspiracy to conceal dangers to their community, Corbin, Ray, and Roxy come to a personal treaty in their pursuit of justice. But they soon discover that burying a problem can have explosive results.

My thoughts: Legal novels are not new in the publishing world. You have authors both secular and Christian producing them. John Grishom writes secular legal suspense and Randy Alcorn writes Christian legal suspense. The author of A House Divided has been on the market writing Christian novels for several years with at least seven prior publications.

In A House Divided we see a family broken by the effects of alcoholism in the life of the father. The father, son, and daughter are all attorneys but they are not working together. The elder Gage, Corbin, has a small legal office in a small Georgia town. His son is the Assistant DA and the daughter is established in a large, international, law firm in Atlanta.

Corbin is a considerate and caring individual who truly likes and wants to help the citizens of his town in their legal matters. That is why when presented the case where two small boys are struggling with cancer which might be the end result of a fertilizer processing plant dumping chemicals that contaminated the well water, Corbin dug tenaciously into it even knowing he was out of his league in doing so. He cared.

But Corbin struggles not only with the legal issues of this huge case, but with his personal need to be part of his family which he hurt so much through his lifelong abuse of alcohol. Corbin deeply loves his grandson, Billy. Corbin's love for this young grandson moves him toward the impossible - giving up his alcohol.

As the story progresses, the legal issues are worked through and in doing so there are family and town repercussions of the suit.

A well written, very readable story. I felt there was a bit much of AA's 12-step program in the story, but that is what Gage was plodding through himself, so it is fitting it should be worked into the story. I actually loved little Billy and the interchanges between Billy and Corbin. This seems to be a perfect relationship between a Grandpa and Grandson.

I enjoyed this book and can recommend it as an enjoyable, clean, good read, that focuses on the need for God in one's life and the strength one has when relying on Him.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook Blogger Review Program on behalf of Thomas Nelson Inc. and the author to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Take care of your skin, hair, and nails with NeoCell Beauty Infusion & NeoCell Biotin Bursts [Review & Giveaway]

Our skin simply has that tendency to deteriorate and breakdown as we age and so does our hair and nails. The NeoCell  company has products that help us take care of our skin, hair, and nails from the INSIDE and not just applying a variety of creams and serums to the outside. And they have done it in a way that makes caring for oneself enjoyable.
NeoCell Beauty Infusion & NeoCell Biotin Bursts
(Note: small "candies" in front of Bursts package)
I was given the opportunity to try out two of their products and I have been absolutely delighted with the taste and ease-of-use of these two products. I even shared some with my daughter who is careful to only use gluten free products and who runs, bikes, and swims on a regular basis. So, what do we think?

The Neocell Biotin Bursts Gourmet Soft Chews
The Neocell Biotin Bursts are small, elegant soft chews just packed with Brazilian Acia Berry. I personally enjoyed these best by dissolving or sucking on them rather than chewing them. My daughter says they are tasty and she dissolves them rather than chews them, as well. I find it a very enjoyable way to consume Biotin (an important B vitamin that promotes healthy lustrous hair and resilient nails).

One scoop of the Neocell Beauty Infusion stirred into a glass of water (or other beverage) makes an enjoyable, fruity drink that is good for you on a cellular level. I tried the "cranberry cocktail" which is rich in 6,000 mg of collagen type 1& 3, hyaluronic acid, biotin, and alpha lipoic acid and vitamin C. My daughter found, as I did, that it does not completely dissolve but it tastes great. I simply rinse the glass with a bit of water after drinking the beverage and drink that last little bit. This makes a tasty drink that is good for you.
I count it a privilege to have the opportunity to review these two products from NeoCell and am looking forward to continued improvement to my skin, hair, and nails. Even ladies-of-a-certain-age can benefit from these products.
NeoCell Beauty Infusion &
NeoCell Biotin Bursts
Begins August 8 & ENDS August 29 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided complimentary products by NeoCell to facilitate this review. I used the product and opinions expressed are based on my use. I was not compensated for this review.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

OxyRub® Pain Relief Cream from Healthy Directions & Developed by one of the world's most renowned pain specialists - Dr. Joseph Pergolizzi

Review: I've lived with pain, particularly back pain, for years and have taken a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medicines to achieve relief. Sometimes it is really hard to get that relief.

My usual method of dealing with pain is to try topical methods before consuming pills. This usually works for mild pain or discomfort. Then I progress to low dosage OTC pills. And then if it is truly impeding my ability to function, I resort to prescriptions. Prescriptions are really hard on my system so I avoid them as much as possible.

When given the opportunity to try OxyRub® I was very interested because it promotes that this provides pain relief that seems to work better than most rub in pain relief creams.  I love this information taken directly from their website.....
OxyRub's secret lies in a patented blend of menthol, emollients, and oxygenated essential oil in a soothing, non-greasy cream that's absorbed into the skin with NO burning or irritation!
Clinical studies prove OxyRub has twice the pain-fighting power
In a double-blind, randomized, controlled head-to-head study, OxyRub was put to the test against a leading, mainstream menthol-only cream. After eight days, users reported their acute pain decreased by an impressive 27.8% compared to just 13.7% in the menthol-only group. That's more than double the effectiveness of the mainstream pain cream!
I used the OxyRub® Pain Relief Cream on knees, back, and shoulders. I was totally amazed that the scent of this menthol based cream was not overbearing and the little scent it did have dissipated in a few minutes. A real plus when you need to apply the cream and go out 'n about and don't want to smell like you've been dipped in menthol.

Next, I found that it helped me in that the mild pain and discomfort of knee, shoulder, and back pain was relieved and in a short time. When this episode was in full-bloom, I used the cream several times during the day achieving relief.

I did have an episode of more sever back pain to occur and tried the cream. It did not get deep enough for this and I had to take some pills to get to it. But the OxyRub® Pain Relief Cream was my first step in achieving relief.

I can recommend this as a product to use for pain relief that is not unpleasant to use and will provide some measure of relief. Dr. Pergnolizzi's OxyRub® Pain Relief Cream seems to me to be a quality product.

About the Product (provided by manufacturer: OxyRub® pain relief cream rubs away pain—right on contact!

OxyRub® works within minutes to:
  • Dissolve arthritis pain in knees, hips, fingers, and wrists
  • Relieve tense, painful back, leg, and neck muscles
  • Cool and soothe stubborn bursitis pain
  • Take the throbs out of bumps, sprains, and bruises
Pain is the single most common reason that patients seek medical care—and yet, there have been shockingly few truly effective solutions. NOT ANYMORE. Now, not even the worst chronic pain can stand up to the pain-relieving power of OxyRub. Whether you've been fighting arthritis pain for ages or just suffer from aches and pains after a round of golf or an afternoon in the garden, OxyRub pain relief cream can eliminate your pain—quickly.

OxyRub combines the pain-relieving power of menthol with a patented, proprietary oxygenated essential oil into a soothing, pleasant-smelling cream.

Find it here:
Read about it here:
Purchase it with a Reader Discount: 20% Off - Promotion code expires 12/31/15 - Reader Discount Code: SAVEOXY2 (regularly priced at $39.99 per tube)

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a free complimentary product powered by BrandBacker in exchange for my honest review. I have tried the product to determine my opinion. I received no compensation for this review.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

This Old Van by Kim Norman illustrations by Carolyn Digby Conahan [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781454910633
Hardcover - $14.95
Sterling Children's Books
About the book: 
This old van,   she passed one, shining in the rising sun. With a click clack rattle rack,ready for some fun,This old van says,“Goodbye, one!”

Take a rollicking ride in This Old Van, a joyful take on the classic children's counting song. As the colorfully painted vintage vehicle, driven by a really cool pair of grandparents, rolls down the highway, it passes one train, two bulldozers, three tractors, and four semis, right up to ten muddy motorbikes. And along the way, luggage flies off, horns honk, and the hurrying van zigs and zags—till it arrives at its destination JUST IN TIME! You won't be able to resist singing every fun verse out loud.

My thoughts: Flower Power, Hippies, Free living/loving, and those roaming VW campervans driven hither and yon across America (and other parts of the World?) are memories of a by-gone era that ran alongside of Vietnam protests, anti-war sentiments, and everything status-pro. Those folks are now aging grandparents. And some still hold onto those styles they loved so dearly. In this cute, colorful, and charming story a pair of aging hippies still have "this old van" and it is still painted in those wild flowers and designs they loved. Here they come! Watch out for this rollicking van to come careening down the road.
Reprinted with permission from This Old Van © 2015 by Kim Norman, Sterling Children’s Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Illustrations by Carolyn Digby Conahan
Gramps and Granny read over their invitation from Jake, they load up the VW Campervan, and begin rolling along. All along the way the click clack rattle rack van passes cars, trucks, stores, ice cream and lots of things and stuff. Careful attention to detail will elicit delightful visual and word puns.
This old van, she passed FOUR,
roaring toward the grocery store.
With a click clack rattle rack,
pedal to the floor,
this old van says,
On and on they go roaring, rolling, and rhyming until they get to their destination Just in Time!

Delightful illustrations done in soft and very colorful pastels, capture the essence of Gramps and Granny and their own particular era to which they've held onto. It also captures the joy they experience and anticipate as they count their way to see Jake and his special event.
This is a fun book that will be read repeatedly to children simply because it is fun, engaging, cheerful, rhymes, and can be sung to the old tune of "This Old Man, He Played One, He played knick knack on his thumb...."
Begins August 4 & ENDS August 26 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review from Sterling Publishing. Opinions are mine, alone. I received no compensation. The giveaway copy is also provided by Sterling who will send it to the winner.