Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Teeny Tiny Toady by Jill Esbaum & illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi [Review & Giveaway]

About the book: When a giant hand scoops up her mama and puts her in a pail, a terrified tiny toad named Teeny hops faster than she ever did in her life. "Mama’s stuck inside a bucket! Help me get her out!” she begs her big, clumsy brothers. “Don’t you worry, kid. We’ll save her!” they promise, bumbling and stumbling and jumbling out the door. But as the boys rush headlong to the rescue, pushing their little sister aside, it becomes clear: brawn isn't always better than brains—and the smallest of the family may just be the smartest one of all.  Written in lilting verse.

My thoughts: When I conjure up mental pictures of frogs and toads, I envision ponds, lakes, tall weeds, cat-tails, algae covered water, lily pads, water skimming insects, and the croaking of toads and frogs. So when I saw the green cover of teeny tiny toady and the dense grasses and plants with a wee little teeny tiny toady in the center, I immediately feel in love with this picture book gem.

Now personally, I'm not a lover of anything frog-y, toady, or reptile-y (I'm quite certain that is simply not a word. But.... whatever). But I do love this little toady. You see, she is the wee little sister of all the brother toads. And of course wee little sister toads don't have ideas and opinions that matter. It is all about what the brothers say do. So we get a bit of a boost when teeny tiny toady (sister to the brothers) actually saves the day.

The author's use of lilting rhyme causes the reader to run and pause and leap and flutter across the words just as the illustrator has sprinkled the text appropriately to show actions and emotions.

The toads get all hands and thoughts on board as they devise scheme after scheme to execute the rescue. This shows to the young reader that we can all work together for solutions to problems. And then when the brothers fail and fall into the bucket themselves, the young reader can also see that sometimes the smallest can have the best idea on how to accomplish the task at hand.

Lots of great illustrations..... Emotions. Excitement. Anxiety. Action. Keika Yamaguchi has used watercolors to deftly bring the story to life. I especially love the scene where teeny tiny runs home with the despairing news. I also love the page where the leaves are skittering and fluttering in the wind across the page right along with the text. And then as teeny tiny feels the weight of having to decide how to rescue ALL OF THEM, there is a huge dark tornado cloud spinning above.

I snapped a couple of pictures of the inside spreads just so you can get an idea how delightful they are.
Teeny Tiny has discovered the boy with the bucket that is holding mama toad and he runs home for help

The wind blowing across the pond and lily pad and leaves fluttering is captured in this picture

Families will have lots of fun reading teeny tiny toady and it will be a gem for librarians to read at story-hour.
Begins March 30
ENDS April 20 @ 12:00 a.m. EDT 
Open to USA  addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy from Sterling Children's Books to facilitate this review and giveaway. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review. Purchase it here

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Back In the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne [Giveaway]

About the book: The prodigal is coming home.

It's been a long time since Colt Stafford shrugged off his cowboy legacy for shiny Manhattan loafers and a promising career on Wall Street. But when stock market manipulations leave him financially strapped, the oldest son of legendary rancher Sam Stafford decides to return to the sprawling Double S ranch in Gray's Glen, Washington. He's broke, but not broken, and it's time to check in with his ailing father, and get his legs back under him by climbing into the saddle again.

He doesn't expect to come home to a stranger pointing a loaded gun at his chest---a tough yet beautiful woman that Sam hired as the house manager. Colt senses there's more to Angelina Morales than meets the eye and he's determined to find out what she's hiding . . . and why.

Colt's return brings new challenges. Younger brother Nick has been Sam's right-hand man at the ranch for years and isn't thrilled at having Colt insert himself into Double S affairs. And the ranch's contentious relationship with the citizens of Gray's Glen asks all the Stafford men to examine their hearts about what it truly means to be a neighbor.  And as Wall Street recovers, will Colt succumb to the call of the financial district's wealth and power---or finally the courage to stay in the saddle for good?
Begins March 29
ENDS April 13 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
If you have won a contest from Litfuse Publicity Group or this publisher in the past 30 days prior to contest closing, you are ineligible to win.
Author info: Ruth Logan Herne has more than half a million books in print, including fifteen Love Inspired contemporary novels. Back in the Saddle is the first book in her new western romance series. Ruth is a founding member of Seekerville, a popular writing collective blog. A country girl who loves the big city, Ruth and her husband live on a farm in upstate New York.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Litfuse Publicity Group to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Shout it out! He is Risen!

Today marked the day that Christians around the World celebrated the resurrection of Jesus the Christ of God. In the sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross of Golgotha, his burial in a borrowed tomb, His glorious resurrection from a sealed grave and burial wrappings, and His ascension to Heaven, He has provided every man an opportunity for forgiveness from his sins. He has given each person the option of living eternally with God in Heaven or being forsaken by God in an eternal death - hell.

How thankful I am to have a risen Lord and Saviour. How thankful I am that He lives! 

Shout it out! Christ is risen! Yes! Christ is risen indeed!
(click to Tweet)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Faith (Book 3 Quaker Bride Series) by Lyn Cote

About the book: The Civil War battlefield is the last place Quakeress Faith Cathwell thought she’d find herself. But with a gift for nursing, Faith seizes this opportunity to join the fight for abolition—and to search for Shiloh, a freeborn childhood friend who was kidnapped and sold south by unscrupulous slave catchers.

Knowing it’s much too dangerous for her to search enemy territory alone, Faith enlists the help of Colonel Devlin Knight, who is indebted to her for saving his cousin’s life. A career soldier, Dev is committed to the preservation of the Union but conflicted about freeing his own slave and confidant, who plans to enlist as soon as Dev gives him manumission papers.

Blazing a trail east with the rest of Grant’s army, Dev and Faith fight their personal battles—and a growing attraction to each other. When beliefs clash and passions flare, they quickly find that the only thing more dangerous than the war surrounding them is the battle within their hearts.

My thoughts: Centered around the battlefields of the American Civil War (War Between the States), this is a moving story that encompasses the inner struggles of individuals conflicted by the societal issues of the time. "Faith" is actually a young woman given the name Faith by her parents and raised and following the beliefs of the Quakers. Being a Quaker, she is peaceful and anti-war. She is, however, a compassionate lady given to the talent and wisdom of healing. She is immersed in the medical tents of the Union Army. Her faith and her skills recognized and respected by many.

It is evident that the issue of slavery and the freeing of slaves is not regulated to the Confederate States or Army. Colonel Knight, Dev, has a faithful slave, Armstrong, who serves him well. Armstrong recognizes he is in reality a freeman because of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation but he desires that Dev actually grant him his papers of freedom.

This is a good story and well done touching many of the issues and areas of conflict that existed during the War. I can easily recommend this for high school teens and adults to read.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the Tyndale Blog Network to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Under the Sea Holy Bible (NIrV for children ages 6 to 10) [Review & Giveaway]

About the book: Themes of underwater fun and sparkling fish grace the interior of this wonderful children’s Bible. The outside is covered in foil and sparkle. The interior has color inserts featuring whimsical underwater scenes with themes of God’s care and love for each of us and all of creation.

My thoughts: I prefer the King James Version of God's Word but realize that the NIV is a very much read version and one that younger families are using. So I agreed to receive and review a copy of this NIrV "Under the Sea Holy Bible." (NIrV = New International Readers Version)

Today's children seem to have a plethora of Bible covers and incentives to delve into God's Word. The premise of an "Under the Sea" Bible seems to be that God created all creatures including those under the sea.The theme, while interesting and cute, lends no devotional aspect.

Now about the Bible and extra pages inside. I found the print very small and the pages thin where the shadow-bleed from the reverse of the page interferes with reading. Children mostly can read very small print, but this is small.

There are eight colorful pages with under the sea images ...

  • What prayer is
  • Title page
  • Books of the Bible
  • The Lord's Prayer (KJV)
  • Ten Commandments for Kids (re-done for kids)
  • Love passages for kids (based on I Corinthians 13)
  • Famous children of the Bible
  • ABCs of Becoming a Christian

The following helps are included:

  • Great Bible Stories (list)
  • Dictionary (very limited)

What is good about it....

  • A very sturdy, hard cover edition
  • It is bright and cheerful and enticing to a child or tween. 
  • It is a version many are familiar with. 
  • It encourages the child to use his or her Bible.

What I don't care for....

  • Prefer the same option in different versions not just NIrV
  • Thin paper
  • Tiny print
  • $24.99 is a hefty price for a child's Bible.

Places where you can purchase it: Barnes & Noble  Walmart  Family Christian Stores 

Inside pages: "Presentation Page" and first page and chapter of Genesis
Begins March 23
ENDS April 9 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
Eligibility is verified by FlyBy and if you have won this prize or any other from a promotion by FlyBy Promotions in the past 30 days you are ineligible to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from FlyBy Promotion on behalf of Zondervan to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated. FlyBy and/or Zondervan will provide the winner's copy directly to them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass & illustrated by E. B. Lewis

ISBN: 9780763671167
My thoughts:  I love children's picture book and early chapter biographies . They are the beginnings of future in-depth readings and education into real people and real places. As children venture into the pages of The Secret World of Walter Anderson they will see a world of lovely watercolors showing the artist in his favorite place and exploring his favorite world - his cottage on a Mississippi Gulf Coast Island. They don't really explore the art of Walter Anderson. They learn about his personality and his love of the island and isolation.

While on his beloved island and while exploring this wild and beautiful setting, his mind and talent would take wings that only such isolation permitted. He portrayed the animal friends he found on the island and he captured what he perceived to be the essence of this wild and wonder place and the wild and wonder creatures that inhabited it.

As a reclusive naturalist he created watercolors that he did not share with the world and they were only discovered after his death. He has been declared an American master.

This is a Candlewick Press children's biography and I certainly enjoyed reading about this American artist.

About the book:    Enter the fascinating world of reclusive nature-lover Walter Anderson — perhaps the most famous American artist you’ve never heard of.

Residents along the Mississippi Gulf Coast thought Walter Anderson was odd, rowing across twelve miles of open water in a leaky skiff to reach Horn, an uninhabited island without running water or electricity. But this solitary artist didn’t much care what they thought as he spent weeks at a time on his personal paradise, sleeping under his boat, sometimes eating whatever washed ashore, sketching and painting the natural surroundings and the animals that became his friends. Here Walter created some of his most brilliant watercolors, work he kept hidden during his lifetime. In a beautifully crafted picture book biography, writer Hester Bass and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis pay homage to an uncompromising American artist.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe, illustrations by S.D. Schindler from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

About the book: Brother Hugo can't return his library book -- the letters of St. Augustine -- because, it turns out, the precious book has been devoured by a bear! Instructed by the abbot to borrow another monastery's copy and create a replacement, the hapless monk painstakingly crafts a new book, copying it letter by letter and line by line. But when he sets off to return the borrowed copy, he finds himself trailed by his hungry new friend. Once a bear has a taste of letters, it appears, he’s rarely satisfied!

Brother Hugo and the Bear is loosely based on a note found in a twelfth-century manuscript -- and largely on the creative imaginings of author Katy Beebe. Lavishly illustrated by S. D. Schindler in the style of medieval manuscripts, this humorous tale is sure to delight readers who have acquired their own taste for books.

My thoughts: I just love when picture books introduce young children to a different historical world than that which they might normally. Going way back to medieval times is unusual for books to take a young child, but Brother Hugo and the Bear does just that. Drawing from a story that has made its way through the annals of time and was found through the research of the author, the story of Brother Hugo and his encounter with the bear that digested his book.

From this story by Katy Beebe and the delightfully and true-to-history illustrations by S.D.Schindler the young reader can....

  • See a form of illuminated illustration that was used in medieval books copied by monks
  • Learn that books were few and far between - pretty rare, indeed - and hand written or hand copied.
  • That books were written on animal skins and a little bit about the composition of ink used to write and draw
  • That when errors were made, the monks would scrap them off the skin
  • That a feather was used to write and draw - the tip being sharpened and dipped in the ink
  • That people were accountable for mistakes - even accidental such as when the bear ate the book

The words used in the story lend authenticity (and the kids will love the difference). Examples

  • "It befell that on the first day of Lent...."
  • "..truly, the words of St. Augustine are as sweet as honeycomb to me...."
  • "...return the book thither."
  • "...Brother Hugo thought he heard lipsmacking full close behind him. Then it must be said that he walked very quickly indeed."
This delightful story shows, also, that with the daunting task Brother Hugo has of re-writing the book, his companion monks pitch in to help. Great teamwork.

I highly recommend this delightful traipse into the medieval world for the young reader. Keep in mind, that the period and the people of the book would have been monks from a Catholic monastery, but that was, after all, what much of this period of history entailed.

The following review was written by the mother of 4 girls who are being home schooled and added here on March 25, 2016:

From the very first words of Brother Hugo and the Bear, the writer captures the attention of each reader.  You can't help but fall in love with a picture book that begins, "It befell that on the first day of Lent, Brother Hugo could not return his library book."   Our family loves the way the book is so beautifully worded, with a wonderful style and rhythm and a gentle current of humor woven throughout.  The illustrations are also delightful.  They are full of detail and perfectly express the emotions of each part of the story.  You will not want to miss the series of notes at the end of the book, as they deepen your understanding of the time period and story.  Brother Hugo and the Bear is a don't-miss Middle Ages tale of the plight of a monk and his library book and the bear that can't resist that book.  (review: B.Suiter)
DISLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for the review.

Show someone they are LOVED with a monthly LOVED AND BLESSED® BOX [Review and Contest Giveaway]

Unlike many subscription boxes, loved+blessed® is about hope and encouragement, rather than products.  As a cause box, they measure the value of their boxes a little differently than many other companies.  Each month they send a box of encouragement to your loved+blessed® ladies with a different theme that they hope will brighten their month, help them get through the challenges of life and help them to pass encouragement along to someone else.   I LOVE LOVE LOVE to get packages in the mail don’t you!? Wouldn’t it be awesome to brighten someones day!

So that I could tell you folks about this really neat program, they have sent me a box to enjoy for myself. Makes me feel "loved + blessed®"!!!

What's inside?

  • A mini poster for your home or office
  • Scripture card just the right size to fit in your pocket or purse
  • A reminder sticker perfect for your mirror, laptop, or tablet that is repositionable 
  • A removable keepsake theme card, and
  • A special gift of encouragement
Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20

These are a nice and convenient and very special way you can "reach out and give a long-distance-hug" to those friends or family members that need a touch of blessings.

Now..... who can you bless with a "Loved+Blessed®" box?
  • That college kid off from home and stressed
  • That stressed out mom in your church or group of friends
  • That friend you haven't seen in ages, but you know is struggling coping with day-to-day issues
  • That neighbor going through cancer or other dire health problems
  • Your pastor's wife

"LOVED+BLESSED®" is hosting a giveaway for a chance to win A Year of Encouragement (12 Free Boxes!) - Click Here to Enter 

You can sign up to send one LOVED+BLESSED® box or a multiple-month subscription.

Give A Gift - CLICK HERE 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Great Carp Escape by Irish Beth Maddock

The Great Carp Escape is a sweet story about a father and his two children enjoying the great out-of-doors. They encounter a carp (fish) that is in danger of being cut off from the water supply by a pond drying up. So father and children devise a plan to save the carp.

The story has a strong Christian message and also teaches children about protecting all living creatures. The story flows gently and is well written.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by the author to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

God Bless Our Country By Hannah C. Hall

About the book: The delightful animals in God Bless Our Country will help you and your children celebrate summer and so many of the wonderful things that make America great.

My thoughts: Teaching children at a very young age to love God and to be thankful to God for the blessings of freedom, of a free country, and the freedom to express verbally our love of God and Country is an opportunity that parents have and should never pass off to others.

The little board book God Bless Our Country centers on family, the great out-of-doors, and activities we can engage in and while doing so appreciate them as blessings from God. Raising the flag with grandpa, marching to a drum roll, and splashing in the water during the summer fun are included and a thankfulness for each of these is directed to God.

I highly recommend.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Blogger Review Program on behalf of the publisher, Tommy Nelson a Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I Can by Kathryn O'Brien, illustrated by Gillian Flint

My thoughts: This is a charming book that using repetition teaches Philipians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength." Not only is the verse taught by repeating the words, the concept of each word as it ties to the verse is elaborated on for the young child.

Simple. Understandable. Thorough. This is a definite buy and keep book for the family of young children. The message is positive enabling the child to understand that, "Yes, they can do it" when the going is difficult. But it also goes further to plant the gem into their heart and mind that "Christ is their source of strength."

The illustrations a lively and sweet. Primary colors are used throughout with softened edges. There is a lot of green and yellow used which speaks of life and brightness. Love it.

I recommend this book.

About the book: With a repetitive, rhythmic introduction of Philippians 4:13 ("I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength"), "I Can" turns Bible memorization from a duty to a delight for children, using the author's unique teaching strategy. This purposeful presentation of Scripture will help children memorize, understand, and absorb passages as the author presents this powerful verse one word at a time, teaching the meaning of each individual word before presenting the entire passage. "I Can" builds a meaningful connection between God's Word and a child's life experiences, laying a foundation for a love and comprehension of Scripture. Parents and children will enjoy interacting together over the passage.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the Tyndale Blog Network group to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated for the review.

Vodiy Ombir Pro Multi-Tool provides superior functionality [Review & Giveaway]

"Man, I've always wanted one of these," said my son when he saw the VODIY MULTITOOL OMBIR-PRO. He began to open all the fascinating bits and pieces of this intriguing tool remarking on all of them. He was impressed, too, with the assortment of screwdriver and hex key bits tucked inside the well-made carrying case pocket.

When my package of the VODIY MULTITOOL OMBIR-PRO arrived, I was immediately impressed with the weight of it. This is not a lightweight, flimsy tool. This is heavy-duty and made-to-last. (Of course, I don't mean "heavy" as in hard to carry. I mean in sturdiness!)

These are ideal to tuck into the glove compartment. Carry hunting. Carry fishing. Carry camping. Even to tuck in the office drawer for those fix-it moments around the office. These are ideal anytime you are out 'n about and don't have a tool chest of full sized tools. They will fill the bill for many times you need a quick fix or to open, make something on the spot.

The functionality of this sturdy, well made tool is amazing! A real plus to have on hand and a terrific gift!

Product information (from VODIY) The Vodiy Ombir Pro Multi-Tool Features:

  • Needle-nose Pliers
  • Wire Cutter
  • Wire Stripper
  • Straight Long Blade
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Bottle Opener
  • Can Opener
  • Saw
  • Awl
  • Double Sided File
  • 11 Separate Attachable Bits: 3 Philips Screwdriver Bits, 3 Flathead Screwdriver Bits, 5 Hex Key Bits

Begins March 17
ENDS April 7 @ 12:01 a.m. ET.
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary product to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review. Find it here

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

An Amish Market (4 Novellas) by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin, Vannetta Chapman [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: This is a charming collection of novellas. A novella is a bit longer than a short story and about 1/3 the length of a full novel. A collection is great to have on hand to pick up for quick, easy reading. The plots are not usually as intricate as a full novel, but lots more satisfying than a short story.

I was already familiar with a couple of these authors, especially Vannetta Chapman. I have reviewed several of her delightful books. This is a publication of Thomas Nelson Publishing and you can count on their books as being good.

Each of the stories was satisfying to read. I especially enjoyed some of the characters a bit more than the others. I like Seth in "Love Birds," Ezra in "A Bid for Love," Will in "Sweeter than Honey," and David in "Love in  Store." I found that each of these men were strong and sensitive.

The ladies in the stories each had their merit. The four stories dealt with Amish customs, the process and pitfalls of love, and in Vannetta Chapman's a touch of mystery.

I enjoyed this collection and can highly recommend it to anyone who wants a gentle read.

Love Birds by Amy Clipston

While Ellie Lapp and her mother are still mourning the loss of her brother, Seth, Ellie starts working at one of the gift shops in town. Seth’s friend Lloyd is talented at carving wooden birds, but his father disapproves and expects him to take over the family farm someday. Ellie sees the beauty in Lloyd’s creations and insists Lloyd sell the birds in the gift shop where she works. As Ellie and Lloyd spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but she accidentally betrays his trust. Will she lose any hope of a future with him?

A Bid for Love by Kathleen Fuller

Every week, Hannah Lynne brings her home-churned butter to the local market. And every week Ezra stops by to purchase some. Hannah Lynne knows not to read too much into it—Ezra is a confirmed bachelor and barely even glances her way, despite any hope to the contrary. But when Ezra bids an exorbitant amount to win the quilt she had her heart set on, Hannah Lynne can’t stop her heart from taking over her mind. Could Ezra finally be in the market for love?

Sweeter Than Honey by Kelly Irvin

Shattering a jar of pickled beets wasn’t the impression Isabella hoped to make on her first trip to the local Combination Store of Bee County, Texas. But as embarrassed as she was by the accident, she didn’t think it warranted the frosty reaction from the handsome manager of the store, Will Glick. As she soon learns, though, Will’s heart has been broken one too many times. And now, for some reason, Isabella finds herself determined to be the one to repair that broken heart and renew his faith in love.

Love in Store by Vannetta Chapman

Stella Schrock works at the Old Mill in Nappanee, Indiana, with new employee David Stoltzfus, a recent widower. When strange happenings begin occurring around town, it appears as if someone wants to close the mill. Stella and David have to work together to solve the mystery of what is happening at the Old Amish Mill, and in the process they might just find that God has more in store for their future than they would ever have dreamed possible.
Begins March 17
ENDS April 4 @ 12:01 a.m. ET. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own.

"Quest" (Book 2 in "Journey" trilogy) by author/illustrator: Aaron Becker [Review & Giveaway US/CANADA]

Hardcover $15.99
About the book: A king emerges from a hidden door in a city park, startling two children sheltering from the rain. No sooner does he push a map and some strange objects into their hands than he is captured by hostile forces that whisk him back through the enchanted door. Just like that, the children are caught up in a quest to rescue the king and his kingdom from darkness, while illuminating the farthest reaches of their imagination. Colored markers in hand, they make their own way through the portal, under the sea, through a tropical paradise, over a perilous bridge, and high in the air with the help of a winged friend. Journey lovers will be thrilled to follow its characters on a new adventure threaded with familiar elements, while new fans will be swept into a visually captivating story that is even richer and more exhilarating than the first.
Aaron Becker, creator of Journey, a Caldecott Honor book, presents the next chapter in his stunning wordless fantasy.

Book 1 in Trilogy
My thoughts: Letting the imagination soar and venture into the unknown and untried is the gift to children in Journey and Quest. I found it a delight to review Journey and to "read" it with my grandchildren. With Quest our little boy and girl characters take their red and purple crayons and venture forth on a Quest to save the king.

They use other crayons along the way to enlighten and brighten their journey. A castle. A temple. A swinging bridge. A purple bird that leads and saves and now a purple octopus.

Becker's art captures emotions and creates adventure and excitement as they go forth to seek the king's rescue. The suspense builds and the increased coloration of the pages in rainbow hues take the story from the shadows of blues and greys to a bright world of color and happiness.

The story of rescue stands out. A "map" is given and tools appear (various color crayons). They go from color to color (following the circle of primary colors) in their Quest to rescue the King. No words are necessary and each age child can fill in the story's descriptive words to suit his or her own brimming imagination.

I sensed that the red crayon and the purple crayon, held in the boy's and girl's hands, were still the magical focus of colors in the story. Now I wonder just where those magical crayons will take us in Mr. Becker's next book in the series.
Begins March 16
ENDS April 5  @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA & CANADA addresses
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The author Aaron Becker has made several memorable journeys in his lifetime. He’s lived in  rural Japan and East Africa, backpacked through the South Pacific and Sweden, and most recently, ventured from the San Francisco Bay area to Amherst, Massachusetts, a town he now calls home with his wife, daughter, and lazy cat. To this day, his favorite destination remains his imagination, where you can often find him drawing secret doorways and magic lanterns.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Delight and opinions expressed are solely my own. I was not compensated. The winner's copy will be provided by Candlewick and mailed directly to the winner.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Adding Protein To An Ordinary Diet With Pure Goodness Protein Powder

I'm not "big" on various health food products so using protein powders is a bit new to me. I know my son makes himself a protein shake or smoothie every day as does my daughter. But to me it is new stuff. So I am venturing into this world a bit like taking a wee step into the vast ocean one toe at a time.

First of all I was given the opportunity to try this new-to-me product Pure Goodness Premium Superfood Protein Powder and I selected the chocolate version. Well, I am a bit of a "gotta have some chocolate" type of person. And then I had to figure out just how I wanted to use it. That is where the wonderful internet comes into play. I saw recipes for shakes, smoothies, bars, breads, etc. So here is my take on the subject....

I love my morning coffee and decided to try to add some chocolate protein to one cup. I added about half a scoop. Hmmm... that was real tasty and a bit like a mocha coffee. Only drawback - there was a bit of residue (or something like dregs) left in the cup. I'm assuming that is the part of the good stuff of the product so it is wasted being rinsed out of the cup. But the coffee did taste good and I'm sure I got a boost in my protein consumption.

Next I wanted to try it in banana bread. Here is the recipe I used (or made up). Warning: This is so good! Sweet, but not real sweet. Light chocolate flavor. Moist.

Vera's Chocolate Banana "Pure Goodness Protein Powder" Bread
Don't you just want to pick up a slice and munch down on this goodness!

Vera's Chocolate Banana "Pure Goodness Protein Powder" Bread

1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup Pure Goodness Protein Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Powder (~2 scoops)
Fresh out of the oven
Vera's Chocolate Banana
"Pure Goodness Protein Powder" Bread
1 tsp. soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/3 cup Extra Light Olive Oil (quality grade)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Mash bananas in a bowl. Into the mashed bananas stir in eggs, oil, and vanilla making sure eggs are well blended. In another bowl measure all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly with a wire wisk. Pour dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Add nuts. Stir only until well blended. Pour into an oiled and sugared loaf pan. Bake at 350 F 50 minutes or until done.

About the Product (provided by New Pure Goodness)

  • New Pure Goodness Proteins are made from a powerful plant-based formula that contains 15 grams of plant based protein per serving and all amino acids essential for human dietary needs. 
  • Pure Goodness products are Non-GMO verified, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free, 100% Vegan and Paleo Friendly! 
  • Choose from two different variations: Hemp Seed Protein and P
  • umpkin Seed Protein which are available in three delectable flavours: Unflavoured, Chocolate and Vanilla.
  • All seeds are gently cold pressed and minimally processed to ensure maximum nutrient preservation and digestibility. 
  • Our products are minimally processed for maximum nutrient preservation and are free from artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. They contain simple, plant-based ingredients which promote sustainable food production which leads to better environmental health.
  • We also believe in taking care of each other. This is why we give back, by donating 1% of sales to help provide nutritious food to communities in need across the US!

Want to win it? Pure Goodness is running a contest/giveaway. Click here for Facebook or Click here for Instagram

Find Pure Goodness all over the web..... Buy it on Amazon

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate this sponsored review. Opinions are my own and product information is provided by the company. I was under no obligation give a positive review.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village author: by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd

ISBN: 9780763615789
About the book: Step back to medieval 1255 England and meet 22 villagers, illustrated in pen and ink, inspired by the Munich-Nuremberg manuscript, an illuminated poem from thirteenth-century Germany. 

Hugo, the lord’s nephew, proves his manhood by hunting a wild boar. Sharp-tongued Nelly supports her family by selling live eels. Peasant Mogg gets a clever lesson in how to save a cow from a greedy landlord. Barbary slings mud on noble Jack. Alice is the singing shepherdess. And many more . . . .

Awards: Newbery Medal (2008), School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editors' Choice

My thoughts:
I didn't know what to expect from Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village since it is a children's book. I knew from the cover art that it wasn't necessarily a sweet little small child's fairy tale type of book, but just what was it?

I am completely taken with the beauty of this publication, the verbal artistry of the author, Laura Amy Schlitz, and the way the various "voices" from the village speak about themselves, their lives, and the times in which they live. The side notes help clarify terms or words so the reader can get a fuller comprehension of what they are talking about in each voicing.

Oh! I had such fun reading each of these character's stories told in the first person as monologues or two-part stories. This was simply something I wish I had had the opportunity to do when my children were growing up. (Oh, where in the world was this book?) And then after some of the villagers told their tale, there would be a page or two of easy-to-understand history of that particular part of Medieval life. For example: Across a stream a Jew and a Christian merchant's daughter gaze at each other. Their emotions emanating from fear and hatred of Christians toward Jews at the time were overcome by a few moments of light, youthful playfulness - stone skipping over the water. Following this was the history of Jewish persecution during the period. A touching scene and a touching part of history.

Another bit of educational fun was the glimpse into the son of the Knight. His current plight and station in life after his father, the Knight, had used all his money and lands to outfit himself to participate in the Crusades. Following this was an interesting and realistic history of the Crusades.

I love the illustrations of Robert Byrd and they seem to really fit the Medieval times harking back to old illustrations and art that have survived the centuries. The two-page spread at the beginning shows the entire village with the stream meandering through it. Of note is every character in Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! is featured (name is by their figure). The cover is filled with colorful villagers mingling about. 

It is easy to see why the book has been awarded the the Gold John Newbery Medal. Entertainment, education, and pure enjoyment pervade the book from beginning to end.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own, alone. I was not compensated for this review.

The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer

About the book: Planning and Post-It notes are the epitome of Evie’s life. But when she meets Jack, her life gets more than a little complicated.

Thirteen years ago, Evie’s firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone. Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie’s heart. But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life is about to make.
Tattooed, rough-around-the-edges Jack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls. Where Evie’s life is stream-lined, Jack’s approach to living is moment-by-moment. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack’s world—a world that isn’t as safe or predictable as the one she’s worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.

Jack doesn’t make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something. Something she hasn’t felt since Max passed away—or, maybe ever. Because even though Jack isn’t anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

My thoughts: A cast of delightful, believable, and vibrant characters hammer their way through this story of lives in distress, lives healing, lives discovering. Main protagonists, Evie and Jack, virtually run headlong into each other on a dark night as she adventures forth to help another and he, stealthily with baseball bat in hand, protects his neighbor from intruders.

Evie is a young widow whose son is marrying very young just as she, herself, did. So I'm guessing her age to be around 37. Young enough to be attracted to the brash and handsome Jack who has now entered her daily life at the church where she works. Evie is old enough to be an in-charge and take-charge person.

Jack has a family chock full of difficulties and problems. He has moved to Banister Falls to be on hand to catch the fall out from these problems and hopefully help solve them.

Most lovable of all the characters, though, is lovable Lily the wee little daughter of Travis who is younger brother to Jack. You will want Lily to paint your toenails Caribbean Orange, too.

A delightful and quick read that is well suited for anyone past teen years. The content isn't "adult" but the interest level more appealing for those a  bit older. Loved it.

About Kathryn Springer: Kathryn Springer is a USA Today bestselling author. She grew up in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child she spent many hours sitting at her mother’s typewriter, plunking out stories, and credits her parents for instilling in her a love of books – which eventually turned into a desire to tell stories of her own. Kathryn has written nineteen books with close to two million copies sold. She lives with her husband and three children in Marinette, Wisconsin. Find out more about Kathryn at 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for the review.

Glimmer Girls frolic in "London Art Chase" and "A Dolphin Wish" [Review & Giveaway--US & CANADA]

Books 1 and 2 of the bright and shinny "tween girl chapter books" has the twins and their sister cavorting in London and San Diego with their glamorous performing mother and their fun and quirky nanny.

The girls are very outspoken, tend to tease and argue a bit, and are adventuresome. In the London Art Chase story, they are given a tour of London, a taste of an English "Tea" replete with clotted cream and little sandwiches, and a day trip to an art museum that proves to be educational and the source of Maddie's adventure.

Maddie is certain she overhears a theft of a work of art being hatched and she is determined to stop it. After the family returns to the hotel, Maddie slips out and makes her way to the "square" where the thieves are to meet up.

The girls are cute, they share faith in God and His care for them, they have a loving family. The big drawback or negative to this story is actually a major aspect of it - Maddie's excursion, alone, away from the hotel to catch a thief. I believe this doesn't set a good example for 10 year old girls But they learn about how serious it is to run off on their own.

Overall, though, I enjoyed the little book and think the series engaging.

In the girl's adventure in A Dolphin Wish the girls learn about faith and trust and obedience. They learn to overcome fears and have fun while they solve yet another mystery. They learn about the importance of doing the right thing.

I love the family outing in San Diego at the Adventure park that has them going from section to section taking in the rides and seeing the animals. Reading about the fun they have as individuals and as a family was really a treat.

I enjoyed this little book for "tweens" and am thankful that there are stories awaiting these young girls that steer them toward a faith-based life.

About Glimmer Girls:   This  is a two-book fiction series for 9-12 year old girls from award winning singer Natalie Grant. Readers will join twins Mia and Maddie, and their little sister, Lulu, as they travel the country finding adventure, mystery, and mischief along the way.  Together with their father, famous mother, singer Gloria Glimmer, and their slightly wacky nanny, Miss Julia, the smart and sassy sisters learn lessons about being good friends, telling the truth, and a whole lot more.

Author Natalie Grant says:  "Glimmer Girls is a fiction series that I have created with my daughters.  The storyline is about three girls who go on tour with their singing mom.  I have no idea where I came up with that plot!  It’s fun for my little girls to help with the content because they actually live that life.  Glimmer is the last name of the family, but it also has a special meaning.  It is a light that is never extinguished.  Sometimes it may glimmer a little bit brighter, sometimes it may glimmer a little bit dimmer, but it never goes out.  I felt like that was such a perfect description for all of us.  We all have a light on the inside and depending on the day, sometimes it’s bright and sometimes it’s dim.  That is the message I wanted girls to get from this book.  You don’t always have to be shining bright, some days are going to be more difficult than others, but Jesus has put a light in you that will never go out.”
1 copy of each of the Glimmer Girls Books Shown Above
Begins March 13
ENDS March 22 @ 12:00 a.m. ET. 
 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.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


"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.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Fabulous new Valentia Clear Lift Revitalizing Serum [Review & Giveaway]

I have grown to really appreciate and love products from Valentia and this new Valentia Clear Lift Revitalizing Serum is no exception. A quality product simply abounding with goodness for my skin.

The directions are to use nightly, but for the first week, I've been using it morning and evening to simply give it a big-bang trial. I've not been disappointed. The serum is rich and creamy. My skin feels simply wonderful. I have applied it and then applied a moisturizer and an eye cream. Fabulous. I have also simply used the serum and the skin still looks and feels great. The fragrance is appealing and dissipates quickly.

I can heartily recommend this rich Valentia Clear Lift Revitalizing Serum.

Indications: This potent and luxurious serum supports natural circulation for an all over youthful and revitalized complexion.


Valentia Clear Lift Revitalizing Serum - A potent and luxurious lactic acid serum that supports natural circulation for an  all over youthful and refreshed complexion. This Revitalizing Serum Will:

  • Renew texture & tone
  • Deeply moisturize
  • Minimize fine lines
  • Increase elasticity
  • Brighten & Plumbs Fine Lines
  • Evens Hyperpigmentation

Specially selected ingredients work together to achieve optimum results. Wakame Bioferment (Seaweed): Increases skin oxygen consumption to detoxify and boost antioxidant defense.

  • Gotu Kola: Lessens the appearance of scars and increases skin firmness.
  • Lactic Acid: A natural Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) that increases skin cell turnover, for healthier renewed skin.
  • Licorice: Lightens unwanted pigmentation and corrects skin discoloration.
  • Argan Oil: Naturally rich in Vitamin E, this oil reduced water loss and protects skin's resiliency and elasticity.
Begins March 9
ENDS March 28 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: Product information provided by Valentia. Opinions are my own. I was provided a complimentary product to facilitate this review. I received no compensation to review the product.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A look a puzzle books: Train Your Brain: Brain-Scrambling Challenges & Mind-Melting Conundrums from Barron's Educational

Train Your Brain: Mind-Melting Conundrums (Train Your Brain Puzzle Books) Authors: Robert Allen, Harold Gale, Carolyn Skitt

Designed by three puzzle-book pros and Mensa members, Mind-Melting Conundrums is brimming with almost 100 pages of number stumpers, logic problems, and verbal tests. Split into three levels of difficulty--called Super Brain, Mega Mind, and Ultra Genius--it gets more challenging as the pages progress. Kids, adults, and anyone else who enjoys a good dose of mental calisthenics will find themselves hooked by each marvelous, mind-melting puzzle.

2 pages from Mind-Melting Coundrums

Train Your Brain: Brain-Scrambling
Challenges (Train Your Brain Puzzle Books) Authors: Robert Allen, Harold Gale, Carolyn Skitt

Throw down the gauntlet to kids and send them on a series of exciting problem-solving quests that will get their brains buzzing. Designed by three puzzle-book pros and Mensa members, Brain-Scrambling Challenges is packed with questions that test kids' brains to the limit...and show them that problem solving = a lot of fun!

  • Endlessly engaging (and shhh…ultimately educational), this book is packed with hours of stimulating entertainment. It includes:
  • Almost 100 pages of challenging riddles, conundrums, and problems such as anagrams, diagrams, word problems, number searches, and more that will put puzzle lovers right in their element
  • Three levels of difficulty--called Super Brain, Mega Mind, and Ultra Genius--so the book gets more challenging as it progresses
  • Loads of quirky, fun illustrations of spaceships, big cats, wooly mammoths, and more
  • Winning text that encourages and challenges puzzle fanatics to keep going

Kids, adults, and anyone else who enjoys a good dose of mental calisthenics will find themselves hooked by each puzzle-solving challenge. It's really a "no-brainer" for parents, grandparents, and friends everywhere who want to give a gift that children will love now--and remember fondly for years to come.
2 pages Brain-Scrambling Challenges

My review: Facing reality, I'll just say that I am simply not a "puzzle" person. True life is full of puzzles and these must be solved using common sense, learned problem solving, and critical thinking. Just because I'm not a puzzle person - especially a puzzle-in-a-book person, doesn't mean that others don't thoroughly enjoy and love the challenge.

The series of "Train Your Brain" puzzle books all feature the quirky "brain figure" on the cover showing off his muscle power. The books span a beginners level and proceed through tricky to more difficult. All are considered appropriate for children typically in grades 2-6. Personally, I found some of the puzzles in the two books featured in this review were not too difficult. Some were much too much of a puzzle for this non-puzzle-loving lady.

I thoroughly believe that mental calisthenics can keep the brain active and well-functioning into the later years just as physical exercise can help maintain a strong body. Whether it is crossword puzzles or mind-scramblers that utilize math concepts and rationale, using these tools is good for the mind. So I can recommend these for everyone to see if you're up to the challenge. Hey--- these aren't just for kids.

DISCLOSURE: I received the two books mentioned to facilitate this review. I was not required to give a positive review and I was not compensated.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Scrubba™ Washbag from EarthEasy makes packing light & being clean possible for all types of adventures [Review & Giveaway]

The folks at have some truly remarkable and Earth-friendly products. They have sent me a SCRUBBA WASHBAG that promises to bring new meaning to living clean and green.

For those folks enjoying the great out-of-doors pursuing hiking, climbing, and general adventuresome activities, this bag is a must if you want to pack light and be clean. Pack fewer socks and undies and even shirts. Find a bit of water (.5 to 1.5 gal.) and Scrubba your clothes. The inside of the bag has a "built in" washboard with nubs that help in the washing process. (Hang 'em up to dry, and wear fresh stuff. No more the dirties and the stinks!
Filling the bag is simple and there are guidelines and
easy instructions printed on the bag.

Pocket sized "washing machine"
If you're traveling domestically or internationally and want to launder your own stuff so you, too, can pack light and be clean, then the Scrubba Washbag might be your go-to handy tool to tuck away in your luggage.

Folds to a compact (approx) size of 6" x 2" it can easily be tucked most anywhere for any journey or adventure. It dries nicely after use. Uses a smidgen of cleaning product and makes staying clean lots easier.

I plan on sharing this wonderful washbag with a grandson that loves to go on hiking and fishing adventures in California's wonderful isolated parks.

Another nice feature is that when it is not in use as a Washbag, it can be a "Drybag" to keep clothes dry while in wet situations - canoeing, kayaking, hiking, etc.

Let's look at some information from on the SCRUBBA WASHBAG.....

After filling the bag with water & cleaning product,
close, rub/agitate using your hands and rubbing

fabric with "washboard" effectively cleaning 
your clothes.
  • A modern take on the old fashioned washboard: hundreds of internal Scrubba™ nodules that efficiently clean your clothes in minutes
  • Machine quality wash
  • Microbial and hydrolysis resistant polyether TPU
  • Lightest washing ‘machine’ in the world at only 5 oz.
  • Folds down to pocket-size and is small enough to take anywhere
  • Grip circles on the outside prevent sliding on surfaces when washing
  • Transparent ‘window’ to see washing and filling levels
  • Picture instructions printed right on the outside of the bag
  • Valve to release air
  • Saves you money and time doing laundry while travelling
  • Great for business trips, outdoor adventures, backpacking adventures, boats, emergency prep, or even for those without a laundry machine at home wanting to wash a few articles or delicates
  • Volume of the bag is 3 gallons, but optimal washing volume is 1 gallon when filled with clothes and water
  • Doubles as a dry-bag

Begins March 5 & ENDS March 28  @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided a complimentary product to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review. Product information is provide by the company. Giveaway is provided by EarthEasy and shipped directly to the winner.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

When No One is Watching by Eileen Spinelli, David A. Johnson (Illustrator)

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978080253035
Hardcover $16.00
About the book: When no one is watching, it's easy to be brave -- to dance and sing, growl and cheer. But when everyone's watching, this book's shy young narrator finds it far easier to hide. With her best friend, Loretta, though, she doesn't feel shy, embarrassed, awkward, or odd -- not one bit. Together they're like two peas in a pod, whether anyone's watching or not.Any readers who have felt shy will certainly recognize themselves within the pages of this adorable book, which will encourage even the most timid of audiences with its celebration of the value of a good friend.

My thoughts: Eileen Spinelli captures what it is like to have pent up desires and ambitions but you're too shy to let them out. It is all about When No One is Watching that we dance with a broom, put on a brave show of strength, and leap with exuberance. Spinelli uses a few lines on each two page spread with a couple in rhyme. The effect is superb and makes for tremendously fun read aloud times.

As artist David A. Johnson skillfully drew this shy but exuberant little girl, he uses a combination of toned down and bright and vivid on the same page to show emotion and energetic activity. Very effectively done. And the little girl is simply adorable with her unruly curls caught back in a headband. What I love, is the seemingly never-ending length and tangle of the shoe strings. They just seem to grow and multiply. Real cute.

The overall take away from the book is that even though shy, we can have and can express our exuberant feelings and no one has to be watching. We can have, too, as this sweet and charming little girl does, a special friend that completely understands and they both can relate and visit the zoo or quietly read a book.

A charming book. Thanks Eerdmans for publishing it.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated for the review.