Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill [Giveaway]

About the book: All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?

Convicted of a crime she didn't commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish---time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie's return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie's claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret---one that holds the key to Allie's freedom.
Watch for my review on May 10th
Begins April 27
ENDS May 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
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Meet the Author: After six years behind the anchor desk at two CBS affiliates, Laura moved to the Alabama Gulf Coast to raise her family. Her accolades in broadcasting include awards from the Associated Press, including Best News Anchor and Best Specialized Reporter.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NeoCell Hyaluronic Acid Blueberry Liquid for healthy joints and skin [Review & Giveaway]

I am now trying another great product from NeoCell which is a trusted name in healthy supplements.

We've all read the good news that our beloved blueberries are wonderfully rich in antioxidents. We even planted a blueberry bush in our back yard and have enjoyed wonderful home-grown, organic blueberries. This Hyaluronic Acid is rich in Blueberry Liquid and that makes it a double-whammy of goodness for our bodies.

Since I'm now a lady-of-a-certain-age, I need all the help I can get  protecting and helping my joints and skin. This product promises to really help.

Now I've tried it straight from the bottle and it is good and tasty. Not bad for a quick, easy to take help for skin and joints.

The picture (with the tiny glass) is one-tablespoon Hyaluronic Acid Blueberry Liquid mixed into two-tablespoons of water. Tastes delicious!

In the picture (with the tall glass) is one-tablespoon Hyaluronic Acid Blueberry Liquid mixed into a lovely mocha chai tea with ice. I did add a bit of honey to sweeten. Delicious!

If you don't care to take pills, this is a lovely way to get some Hyaluronic Acid and blueberry benefits into your daily life. And now the readers here at Chat With Vera have an opportunity to get a bottle by entering the giveaway below. Or you can go ahead a grab a bottle for yourself from iherb (where I shop for my NeoCell products).
Begins April 26
ENDS May 17 @ 12:00 a.m. EDT 
Open to USA  addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Product information (from Neocell)

  • Nutrients You Can Trust
  • 50 mg Hyaluronic Acid Per Serving
  • Quenching Hydration for Supple Skin and Lubricated Joints & Eyes
  • Fast-Acting Delicious Liquid
  • Dietary Supplement
  • Joint Health
  • Skin Viscoelasticity
  • Eye Health
  • Moisture Magnet
  • GMP Certified
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is an important disaccharide found in every tissue of the body, in particular as an essential lubricant of healthy joints, skin, and eyes. NeoCell Hyaluronic Acid Blueberry Liquid is a natural dietary supplement enhanced with the antioxidant power of pomegranate and green tea, blueberry to help with eye health, and the absorption benefits of ionic minerals. The advanced formula is an easy to take and tasty HA supplement.

Suggested Use - As a daily supplement, take one (1) tablespoon (1/2 fl oz) daily, alone or mixed with six ounces of water, fruit juice or herbal tea.

Other Ingredients - Purified water, citric acid, natural flavors, potassium sorbate (to preserve freshness), and silicon dioxide. Does not contain: Soy, wheat, lactose, starch, yeast, or artificial flavors. Gluten free.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary bottle of Hyaluronic Acid Blueberry Liquid from NeoCell to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and were freely given.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Unquiet Bones (The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon #1) by Mel Starr

ISBN13: 9781854248855
Lion Hudson Publisher
Kregel Pub.
About the book: Hugh of Singleton, fourth son of a minor knight, has been educated as a clerk, usually a prelude to taking holy orders. However, he feels no real calling—despite his lively faith—and he turns to the profession of surgeon, training in Paris, and then hanging his sign in Oxford.

Soon after, a local lord asks Hugh de Singleton to track the killer of a young woman whose bones have been found in the castle cesspool. Through his medical knowledge, Singleton identifies her as the impetuous missing daughter of a local blacksmith.

The young man she loved—whom she had provoked very publicly—is quickly arrested and sentenced at Oxford. But this is just the beginning of the tale.

The story of Singleton's adventure unfolds with realistic medical procedures, droll medieval wit, romantic distractions, and a consistent underlying sense of Christian compassion.

My thoughts: To my sorrow I  began reading Melvin R. Starr's books featuring the chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon, about mid-series. After reading several in a row, I now have the opportunity to begin at the beginning and that is with The Unquiet Bones.

If you're not familiar with Starr's wonderful qualifications to write about this period of medieval life, check him out. (click here) And if you've not read any of his "Hugh de Singleton" adventures you have missed a treat. Set in a real historical site that contains remains of Church of St Beornwald near the castle of Bampton.

Cloaked in terminology and tone that take you back to the 1300s and yet entirely readable here in the 21st century, these stories easily bring you to the place of walking the paths and conversing with the Lords, villeins, and fair maidens of that time. In the opening of The Unquiet Bones the cesspit (oh my what a stinking horror to clean) is being cleaned out and bones are found. Thought to be pig bones (and why on Earth would pig bones be in a cesspit?) but on closer examination they are found to be human. This is where the surgeon, Hugh de Singleton, is called in to do some 1300s forensic science and identify the bones and cause of death.

As the story progresses, a high ranking man's fancy garment is found in the woods and covered in leaves. This leads to more investigation. 

I have inadequate words of my own to express how enjoyable Starr's stories are. The droll expressions of Hugh de Singleton, the terse comments, and the wonderful flow of story and character development.

I highly recommend the series to anyone who wants a delightful romp in the 1300s with Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel on behalf of Lion Fiction and the author.

The Inheritance (Secrets of the Shetlands Series) by Michael Phillips from Bethany House Publisher [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN13: 9780764217487
About the book: The death of clan patriarch Macgregor Tulloch has thrown the tiny Shetland Islands community of Whales Reef into turmoil. Everyone assumed Tulloch's heir to be his much-loved grandnephew David. But when no will is discovered, David's calculating cousin Hardy submits his own claim to the inheritance, an estate that controls most of the island's land. And Hardy knows a North Sea oil investor who will pay dearly for that control.

While the competing claims are investigated, the courts have frozen the estate's assets, leaving many of the locals in dire financial straits. The future of the island---and its traditional way of life---hangs in the balance.

Meanwhile, Loni Ford enjoys a rising career in a large investment firm in Washington, D.C. Yet, in spite of outward success, she is privately plagued by questions of identity. Orphaned as a young child, she was raised by her grandparents, and while she loves them dearly, she feels completely detached from her roots. That is, until a mysterious letter arrives from a Scottish solicitor. . . .

Past and present collide in master storyteller Michael Phillips' dramatic new saga of loss and discovery, of grasping and grace.

My thoughts: One might think that with a book ending at 428 pages, "The End" would be welcomed. However, at that point the door was opened to an intriguing and beguiling continuance. Not a true cliffhanger, just a welcoming of possibilities.

Michael Phillips has created a cast of characters that the reader both loves and detests. The scene is the northern-most islands of Scotland called The Shetlands. We've heard of Shetland Ponies and Shetland Wool, well this is the land of all that and much, much more. It is a land of people descended from the Celts, Scots, and Norse. Their language or dialect is a conglomerate of their heritage leaning heavily on Scots.

The land is surrounded by treacherous seas and yet these are a fisherman breed whose main livelihood is from the sea.

There are two timelines in this story and it is a strongly woven meshing of traditional Scots heritage where the land is owned and managed by a Laird and Chief. In this story the Laird has died and the inheritance is highly questioned and contended.

I love Michael Phillips' story telling and thoroughly enjoy mental strolls over the land and gazes from the heights. In my mind, I love the wind I can feel in my face as I experience what the characters are currently experiencing.

I love the old man and his connection with the old and the new. I love the strength and gentleness of David, the Chief.

This is another exceptional read given us from the pen of Michael Phillips and one I can heartily recommend.
Begins April 25
ENDS May 10 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
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DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the author and Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Author: Michael Phillips is a bestselling author who has penned more than seventy books, both fiction and nonfiction. In addition, he has served as editor/redactor of nearly thirty more books. Over the past thirty years, his persistent efforts have helped reawaken interest in the writings of nineteenth century Scotsman George MacDonald.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Baby Wren and the Great Gift by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrations by Jen Corace

ISBN13: 9780310733898 ZonderKidz
About the book: The Baby Wren and the Great Gift, written by bestselling author Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jen Corace, is a celebration of all the wonderful gifts God has given us. The tiny wren marvels at the incredible creatures around her, all the while wishing she had a special gift to share. As she takes in the beauty of the world around her, she discovers a unique talent that’s been inside her all along. 

My thoughts: Charming! Sweet! Baby Wren is so very lovable!

As beloved author Sally Lloyd-Jones tells Baby Wren's story we turn the pages on creature after creature that has a wonderful gift. And there is the repeated phrase, "and the glittering river ran on" that gives constancy and majesty to the whole.

Baby Wren begins life in a nest set in the crevice of a canyon. There is largeness and majesty all around tiny Baby Wren and she sees all the gifts of creation around her.

She wants a gift, too, but she is not a Kingfisher, she is not a Monarch butterfly nor a ring-tailed cat. She is just a tiny Wren. She wonders why she is not as they are....
"But no one answered,
Monarchs played in the milkweed.
A breeze rustled in the switch grass.
And the glittering river ran on."
The text has a lovely lyrical rhythm to it and can be beautifully read aloud or to oneself.

The illustrations by Jen Corace are beautiful and rendered in pencil and watercolors that capture the essence of Spring in the canyons. Lovely!

The message in the book will be easily understood and is one that all need to learn and take to heart - we all have a gift, a majestic gift, a wonderful gift that we can and should share with our Creator God.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook Blogger Review program on behalf of ZonderKidz and the author. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

ABC Rainforest [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN-13: 978-1454917465
Sterling Children's Books
About the book: A is for Amazon, B is for Blue Arrow Poison Frog, and C is for Canopy: Welcome to the rainforest! This stunning alphabet book from the famed American Museum of Natural History presents one of Earth's most exquisite and endangered environments. Through magnificent images, kids will encounter a diverse range of rainforest flora and fauna, from flying foxes and gorillas to kapok trees, leafcutter ants, orchids, and X-ray Tetra Fish. What a wonderful way to introduce children to the world of nature and conservation—and their ABCs, too!

My thoughts: The ABC Rainforest book produced by the American Museum & Natural History does more than entertain and teach association of the ABC's with items. It is a beautifully presented board book said to be for ages 2-5. However, I find that the information in the book, while a really good book for this younger group, can easily grab the attention and provide insight for the upper elementary grades. Will older students be "put off" by a board book? Perhaps, but teachers and librarians as well as parents would do well to provide this delightful entertaining and educational experience to children.

This is a large board book that allows plenty of page space to present the information and will do well as a read-aloud book for groups. Facts are presented ranging from deforestation to creatures that live in the rainforest. Did you know that the rainforest is not only in the Amazon, but it entails a temperate zone rainforest as well that reaches northern climes? Some creatures that live in the rainforests actually do not ever touch the ground - they live in the canopy or upper region of the trees.

A fascinating book for the young and for those a bit older and will certainly become an educational treasure. Congratulations to the American Museum of Natural History and Sterling Children's Books for another super book.
Begins April 23 & ENDS May 14  @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author: The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is one of the largest and most respected museums in the world, with an annual attendance of five million. Since the Museum was founded in 1869, its collections have grown to include more than 33 million specimens and artifacts relating to the natural world and human cultures. The Museum showcases its collections in the exhibit halls, and, behind the scenes, more than 200 scientists carry out cutting-edge research. Researchers based in the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation work with local communities and partners from around the world to transform knowledge into conservation action. Plan a trip to the Museum, home of the world's largest collection of dinosaur fossils, or visit online at

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Sterling Children's Books to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review. Giveaway copy is provided by the publisher and mailed directly to the winner.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Little Tree by Chrystyna Edwards & illustrated by Megan Edwards [Review & Giveaway]

Westbow Press 
ISBN-13: 978-1490856537
Little Tree is a children's book written by Chrystyna Edwards & illustrated by Meagan Edwards. It is about finding joy in all seasons and circumstances.

I recently met with Chrystyna Edwards and her grown daughter, Megan Edwards, at the local library in my small town. Chrystyna lives in a nearby town and has been visiting local libraries and local schools sharing her book, Little Tree,  I found Chrystyna and Megan to be delightful ladies and a joy to share their sweet spirit and their book.

It is especially a delight to me to be able to encourage a local author and artist and to, hopefully, promote their book so that others can share in its loveliness and sweet message.

As you can see on the cover of the book, there is a little tree, a young tree, with small branches and few leaves. But it is there. It is growing. And it has a great big heart right at its core. The message of this little book is that little tree has a joyful heart and that the tree enjoys whatever each and every season change.

The illustrations by Megan are colorful and well drawn. The robot characters have hearts, too, and they wear them on their chests or on their heads. I love that there are little tiny bits on pages for your little ones to search for and find - a tiny spider, a little bird, a little kite, the music notes. The drawings have the appearance of crayons and that can be an encouragement to children to take their pencils, markers, and crayons and draw.

The story is very well written in lyrical prose and just flows beautifully. I love it when an author gets it so "right." This is  a lovely little story and one you'll be glad you bought for your special little one.
"Then one cool morning Little Tree couldn't contain its joy. While the older trees were looking the other way, joy burst out in a beautiful array of colors, gold, orange and yellow. Little Tree raised its limbs and was thankful for the cooler weather."
"..... Winter is a time for Joy. Joy lived in Little Tree, resting, waiting. Sleep came and Little Tree dreamed of Spring and its dreams were filled with Joy."
Prize: A copy of Little Tree & a Little Tree Tote Bag
Begins April 21
ENDS May 12  @ 12:01 a.m. ET.  
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was given a complimentary copy of Little Tree to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts by Maja Säfström

About the book: An artfully playful collection of unexpected and remarkable facts about animals, illustrated by Swedish artist Maja Säfström.

Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that ostriches can't walk backward? These and many more fascinating and surprising facts about the animal kingdom (Bees never sleep! Starfish don't have brains!) are illustrated with whimsical detail in this charming collection.

My thoughts: When this little book arrived, I removed it from the shipping box which I disposed of and then immediately found a seat in my recliner to delve into the pages of this rather unique little book of black and white drawings and sparse text.

What a delight! What fun! And interesting wee bits of fact to tuck away knowing that you are probably the only one in your acquaintance that knows that little nugget.

I found the style of imparting facts interesting and entertaining. Just the right amount of quirky prose that educates and entertains populated generously with Maja Säfström's quirky black and white drawings that are on-spot like the critters and  yet fun to look at.

Who is it for? Well, it is not touted as for children ages this to that or grade whatever to grade whichever. It is simply ageless. Children will enjoy it and ponder it and laugh at it. Adults will enjoy it and ponder it and laugh at it. They'll all stuff wee bits of odd facts into their craniums waiting for that momentous trivia moment. So get one and share it and laugh and giggle and say "Wow!" a bit.

Stockholm-based Maja Säfström is a very gifted graphic designer and you can learn more about here by clicking here.  @MajasBok Instagram And more from Penguin Random House

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the Blogging For Books Review Program on behalf of the publisher and author. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Monday, April 18, 2016

I Am Marc Chagall by Bimba Landmann from Eerdmans Publishing Young Readers

About the book: "I painted my world, my life, all the things I loved, all the things I dreamed of, all the things I could not say in words. I painted my beloved Russia, my hometown Vitebsk, the Jewish neighborhood where I grew up, the way I saw everything as a child."

During prayers, he would daydream; in school, he was distracted; and at home he worried about what profession he should choose. But when the young Marc Chagall realized he had artistic talent, he translated his unusual way of looking at the world into color and shape.

Chagall grew up, became a painter, and traveled the world, but he never forgot about his hometown of Vitebsk, the place that shaped his character and inspired his art.

This book, loosely based on Chagall's autobiography, gives readers a glimpse into the early life of one of the twentieth century's most significant painters. Landmann's charming three-dimensional mixed media illustrations celebrate the colorful, the whimsical, and the extraordinary aspects of Chagall's life and work.

My thoughts: Typically one would think of a picture book being for young children. We think, usually, ages Pk-8 year olds. In the case of the I Am Marc Chagall by Bimba Landmann it is easily a book that can be of interest and educationally effective through older students. Adults can even find it interesting and attractive.

Capturing the essence of Marc Chagall as he grew up Jewish in Russia and his deep seated insights visually and emotionally into what is going on in his world and that of his village, the foundation is laid for the later years of Marc Chagall the Artist. His style was Expressionism and Cubism - both of which are very abstract.

I found this children's picture book biography very interesting to read and can readily recommend it to home schoolers, classroom libraries (especially art collections), school libraries, and public libraries. It is good to learn about artists and how they grew up and what shaped them for their later works.

The author and illustrator, Bimba Landmann, utilizes a mixed collage of materials to illustrate the book rendering a three dimensional effect to the illustrations. They are not Marc Chagall's work, though they essentially capture a Chagall atmosphere.

There is a nice "The Life of Marc Chagall" section at the back of the book listing by year events in his life and his involvement.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishign Co. to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Award Winning Author Carole P. Roman releases 2 new books: "Can A Princess Be A Firefighter?" and "Rocket-Bye" [Review & Giveaway]

Can a Princess Be a Firefighter? by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Mateya Arkova

Two little girls pepper their father with questions about whether or not they can be a profession and still be a princess. Motivated by her granddaughter's fascination with all things 'princess,' Carole P. Roman penned this adorable poem celebrating all the wonderful possibilities waiting ahead for them.

My thoughts: Little girls and their daddies! Priceless! In this delectably delicious little pink book, we see on page after page the long, thin daddy legs and feet as he speaks to his girls about growing up.

Girls just like boys envision various activities for when they are grown up. Traditionally, girls are mommies and keepers-of-the-home. But they can be so much more. Now I am much a traditionalist and believe there is no finer calling for a girl than to grow up as a nurturer - mommy and keeper-of-the-home. But I also am a firm believer that girls should grow up prepared to face the world and earn a living in a field outside of the home. And this should be in a field in which they find enjoyment and have a talent.

Little girls in tutu's, crown, cowboy boots and hats, and firemen's helmets populate the pages of Can a Princess Be a Firefighter?

"You can be anything you want to be,
anywhere, place, or time.
Dancer, dentist, cowpoke, reporter,
painter, biologist, accountant, or mime."

A charming book and an encouragement to daddies to sit down with their girls and encourage them about their charming futures. The story and illustrations capture the delightful essence of little girls in all their charm. (enter giveaway below)

Rocket-Bye by Carole P. Roman, illustrated by Mateya Arkova

Carole P. Roman travels to the stars, orbiting the moon and rocketing past planets in this adorable journey to the far reaches of the galaxy.

A beautiful bedtime poem, this verse is sure to delight any child before they go to sleep.

 My thoughts:  Sweet thoughts and mental images of adventurous activities are the stuff and material of happy dreams and visions for youngsters. Reading Rocket-Bye to a boy (or girl) at bedtime (or anytime) fosters the imagination of far off galaxies, stars, planets, and  moons.

Written by Carole P. Roman for the delight of children everywhere, and illustrated in the soft, adventurous style of Mateya Arkova, Rockey-Bye rhyme and pictures will capture the attention of boys and girls everywhere. A cute space ship ride for two youngsters as they romp hither and yonder exploring the vastness of the universe.

"We love the constellations,
the way they fill the skies.
The crazy quilt of a universe
is spread before our eyes."

This is a sure-to-please book for a young child in your life giving them a peek into the world above us.
2 Winners Each Receive A Copy of Each Book
Begins April 14
ENDS May 5 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Vimeo video of Carole P. Roman by Amazon about self-publishing - click to watch:

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of these books from the author to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated. Prize copies are provided by and mailed by the author and sent directly to the winner.

A Dream of Miracles by Ruth Reid (Amish Fiction from Thomas Nelson Publishing) [Review & Giveaway]

About the book: Amish widow Mattie vows never to love again . . . until a suspicious outsider with a shadowy past comes crashing into her fragile world.

Mattie Diener can barely keep it together. A young Amish widow and mother of two young children, she faces the lingering heartbreak of lost love, her son's mysterious illness, and a torrent of accusations that threaten to undo her.

Bo Lambright is a fast-rising social services investigator whose high-society mother won't rest until she finds his Mrs. Right. Despite Bo's worldly success, the raw ache of a shadowy past and a series of unsettling dreams have left him reeling.

When Mattie and Bo cross paths, all signs point to disaster. Yet as they face a crucible of trials and tragedies together, longings begin to stir that seem destined only to end in more heartbreak. Is a miracle possible---not only of healing but of forbidden love? What secrets lie in Bo's dreams? And will Mattie find the courage to face her uncertain future . . . or will she simply run away?

Reid2My thoughts: Prepare to have your heart bleed or break at the events and tragedies that beset this young Amish mother and widow as her life is embroiled in the fall out from rules set down by a society that she is not part of but which are in place to protect. These rules threaten to destroy the very life and existence she holds dear to her tender heart.

As one whose job it is to see that the rules that protect the tenderest of society are complied with, Bo Lambright confronts Mattie Diener and nearly destroys her in the process. But her gentle ways weaken Bo's resolve and he investigates further.

This is not your typical sweet and gentle Amish story of a people who shun modern conveniences and lifestyles. It is about misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and being misguided. It is a story worth the telling and worth the reading. And it is a story that would and should encourage all elements of society to think deeply before acting.

A highly recommended read and a well-written story by Ruth Reid.
Begins April 14
ENDS May 2 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Meet the Author: Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA bestselling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who lives in Florida with her husband and three children. When attending Ferris State University School of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Michigan, she lived on the outskirts of an Amish community and had several occasions to visit the Amish farms. Her interest grew into love as she saw the beauty in living a simple life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Reluctant Duchess by Roseanna M. White

About the book: Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough—not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar and the men who have jeopardized her life.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has suddenly found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of his neighbor, Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when the moody Earl of Lochabar tries to trap Brice into marrying Rowena, Brice finds he’s not as opposed to the idea as he expected to be.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to resort to marrying a notorious flirt just to gain his English home. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in some kind of questionable business with a stolen treasure, she ’fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.

My thoughts:  I usually enjoy  Roseanna M. White's books but I have somewhat mixed feelings about this one. 

It has good character development with sweet ladies and mean ladies. It has a wonderful Duke who is described as handsome (of course), has a strong faith, and a wonderful character. It has a couple of really mean men - the father of Rowena and her erstwhile fiance, Malcome.

The story is an ongoing saga replete with sad sensationalism. A shocking physical and brutal attack on  Rowena by her fiance is described. This is referred to frequently as Rowena continues to be plagued by its aftermath. There is a lot of family drama, friends who are deceitful, and more than one attempted murder.

The story was clean but a bit more dramatic than I normally like to read. It is probably a faithful rendering of situations that could have and probably did happen more often than one likes to believe. So I can't and won't doubt its veracity. 

I truly love the faith that the Duke has and how he is willing to have God lead and direct his every step. He listens to God. He obeys God. And his life is filled with outward evidences of a Godly life toward his wife, his employees, and his friends and neighbors.

Do I recommend it? Not for younger than high school graduates. Is it a clean read? Yes, in that it does not crudely describe bad situations. How do I rank it? I would give it a 3.5 out of 5.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group to facilitate this review.  Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Eternal Youth Exfoliating Scrub by Valentia Natural Skin Care

I am not a particular fan of facial scrubs simply because I sometimes tend to get it too close to my very sensitive eyes. I know - my fault, but alas this is simply the situation. However, since the Valentia products are very nice and I really like them, I thought I'd give the Valentia Eternal Youth Exfoliating Scrub a try. I was not disappointed.

The Valentia products are packed in lovely, enticing packaging that shows they value their product.

The texture of the Eternal Youth Exfoliating Scrub is slightly gelatinous and has tiny granules for enhancing the scrub. I think this slightly gelatinous texture allows for scooping a bit out of the jar with your fingertips and rubbing over your face without it slipping and dripping off. Rubbing it onto my skin with circular motions allows for the scrubbing. There are just the right amount of Jojob Beads to do the work of exfoliation without harshness.

I love the scent. Usually I enjoy a very feminine, flowery scent. I don't know what results in the scent of this product, but I love it. It has a freshness and a uniqueness about it.

Does this scrub irritate? Absolutely not. I felt a mild astringent sensation the first time I used it, but that quickly passed and it was not at all unpleasant or irritating.

I can highly recommend this product.

Product information from Valentia: 

Eternal Youth Exfoliating Scrub sloughs off dead skin, provides hydration, and rejuvenates your face. Antioxidant rich green and white teas fight wrinkles, dullness, and unevenness, while Jojoba beads gently scrub away dead skin without damaging healthy skin cells. Our nourishing trio tropical butters rehydrate skin, helping to repair signs of aging that will leave skin looking luminescent all day long.
  • Green and White Tea: Packed with polyphenols and potent antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, and anti-aging effects.
  • Aloe Vera: This nutrient rich botanical moisturizes the skin and fights aging by improving skin firmness.
  • Jojoba Beads: Gentle beads that work to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells without scratching the skin.
  • Olive, Avocado & Kukui Butter: This nutrient dense trio is rich in Vitamin A, B, D, and E helps nourish, hydrate, and repair the skin while combating pro-aging free radicals.
  • Brightens & revives skin
  • Improves skin tone & texture
  • Removes dead skin cells
  • Softens the skin
  • Prevents future breakouts
Find the product: Amazon  Valentia  Facebook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product from Valentia to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not required to post a positive review. I was not compensated.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Purex® plus Clorox 2® has Powerful Boost of Stain Fighters [Review & Giveaway]

There is a real perk to being a member of the Social Insiders team of bloggers. And that is we get to review top products and let our readers know about them. Getting the laundry done and doing so it comes out of the wash clean, fresh, and stain free is a real perk.

Purex® plus Clorox 2® is the new kid on the block of laundry detergent products and the Clorox 2® added to the basic Purex® has given dirt and stains a real "kick in the seat of the pants." Purex® plus Clorox 2® detergent is specially formulated with Clorox 2® stain-fighting enzymes to remove the toughest stains. Works with all washing machines, including High-Efficiency (HE).

We're past the kids and mud, kids and grass, kids and ketchup, kids and whatever stage of life. We are not, however, past the stage of life where we get things dirty or stained and needing a special tweak to get clean and fresh.
Ready to load 'n wash for a brighter clean

Purex® plus Clorox 2® in the Sunny Linen™ scent has worked well in my HE washer and my tired and worn white towels are bright clean and fresher and closer to the look of new than they have been in ages.
Whites are loaded ready for a good refreshing,
brightening clean from Purex® plus Clorox 2®

If you have got especially tough stains (grass, foods, red-clay skid marks - baseball slides), then you'll want to pre-treat by applying the Purex® plus Clorox 2® directly to the stain, rub it a bit, and allow to sit a few minutes before washing. Great that it is safe for colors and such a smart value that is easy on the pocketbook. It is great that this new product with Clorox 2® in it makes my whites brighter and is safe for the colored items and doesn't fade them.
Provided by Purex® via the #SocialInsiders Group

This new Purex® plus Clorox 2® comes in two delightful scents - Sunny Linen™ and Original Fresh. I'm using the Sunny Linen™ and have found it really refreshing.
2 of Chat With Vera's readers will win one of these
Free Product coupons valued up to $7
Begins April 9
ENDS May 1 @ 12:01 a.m. ET.
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product from the Purex® brand via Social-Insiders to facilitate this review and coupons for the giveaway which I will mail out. I was not compensated for this review. Opinions are my own.

©The Dial Corporation, a Henkel Company. CLOROX 2® and the CLOROX 2® Diamond Logo are trademarks of The Clorox Company and used under license.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

WOULD A WORM GO ON A WALK? by Hannah C. Hall & illustrated by Bill Bolton [Review & Giveaway]

Hardcover - Ages 4-7
ISBN13: 9780824956776
About the book: A comical picture book about the unique qualities of various creatures and how they were planned to be just that way by a loving, wise Creator. So begins this humorous and imaginative picture book that introduces children to the idea that animals are uniquely created by a loving and wise God. Would a Worm Go on a Walk?, with its colorful, comical illustrations, is a fresh, fun way to teach young children that God gave all the animals--and each of us--wonderful qualities and unique strengths. Children will giggle over the ridiculous scenarios presented, and they will come away with the knowledge that we all are loved and special.

My thoughts: It is always a joy and delight to be able to help young children come to a knowledge that all of Creation was made by God and that each creature does what it does simply because it was designed that way by God the Creator. When it can be taught in an entertaining and educational way that is within the levels that will capture the imagination of the young child, it is a true prize indeed.

Would A Worm Go On A Walk? is just such a prize. Written by Hannah C. Hall in good rhyme that flows beautifully and illustrated in such a joyful and delightful way by Bill Bolton, the book will entertain with quirky critters and questions about them - kind of nonsense stuff.  We all know worms don't have feet to walk, but to ask the question "Would a worm go on a walk?" tickles that nonsensical funny bone we all have.

Ending with a strong finish that declares that "God's masterpiece Is YOU!" ("God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." --Genesis 1:31a)

They look just as he wanted,
and they act just as they should.
He made them and he loves them,
and he calls them very good.

But God's designs weren't finished.
His special plans weren't through.
The ANIMALS were just a start.
God's masterpiece is YOU!

Begins April 7
ENDS April 28  @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
 Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Worthy Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own, alone and I was not compensated.

Busy, Busy! by Eileen Spinelli & illustrated by Elina Ellis

About the book: A playful board book about expressing love, even when life is busy. Sometimes, when life gets hectic and schedules get crowded, children may feel a little lost in the shuffle. In this new board book, the animals are all quite occupied. Beaver is busy; squirrel is busy; frog is busy. Mole is digging, bear is fishing, and cat is pouncing. And like many parents, Mama is busy too. But she's not too busy for a hug! Children will love the busy animals and the warm conclusion. This lighthearted, lyrical book will gently reassure children that, in spite of how busy their families are, there is always time to share love. Ages 2 to 5.

My thoughts: The combination talents of Spinelli and Ellis has crafted a delightfully sweet and charming rhyming board book that goes through a whole gamut of critters and how are busy each of them is - even a tiny spider is busy weaving. Sized just right for the wee hands of little children and charmingly filled with characters busy being and doing what they each are prone to do, Busy, Busy! can easily become a favorite and one that is carried from place to place sweetly treasured by your little one.
Notice how in this picture kiddies can find very small details to match the rhyme - even down to the tiny spider weaving his web.

Cat is busy--yarn's a-tangle.
Cricket's busy in the weeds.
Spider's busy at her spinning.
Mouse is buy nibbling seeds.
At the end, the little ones are told that mommy, too, is busy, busy but she is NEVER too busy to cuddle YOU! Great lesson in the value a mother places on her child and values the child over her own work.

Guaranteed to be a warm, fuzzy, loving reading experience for mommy and her  little ones.

I have reviewed books by the author, Eileen Spinelli, and also books illustrated by Elina Ellis. Always a pleasure!
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Worthy Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Homestead Soap & Spa Pampered Skin Collection

I had the opportunity to review the Homestead Soap & Spa Pampered Skin Collection. I received samples of four products and am loving each of them. My fragrance choice was "Lavender."

I found the lavender fragrance simply wonderful and each of the products produced a different amount of this scent.

The collection features natural ingredients with essential oils that complement each other and provide the ultimate skin indulgence.

Body & Hand Lotion was the first I used. I just couldn't resist popping the lid and lathering a bit onto my hands and arms. Oh! This is superb. A satiny feel. Absolutely no "sticky feeling." A lasting coverage and lasting fragrance - an absolutely fantastic fragrance.

Exfoliating Scrub  was used in my bath to scrub my legs. Well, they weren't so dirty they needed "scrubbing," but I gently massaged this over my legs to exfoliate and help the skin. I did this prior to shaving, leaving the residue on the skin as a "shaving cream." My skin was wonderful after bathing and exfoliating with this gentle sugar scrub.

Whipped Body Butter is a very light body butter that goes on smoothly leaving my skin satiny smooth, looking great, and wonderfully fragrant. The fragrance lasts for hours as does the wonderful smoothness to the skin.

Cleansing Bar this lovely lavender soap is gentle and feels very good to use for bathing. Definitely not harsh and very cleansing and it has a light lavender fragrance.

A bit about Homestead Soap & Spa products:

Products are not tested on animals
Products feature naturally sourced ingredients
Products are created using sustainable methods

In our minds, a perfect world includes sustainable bath and body products, which is why we carefully source each component of our lotions, creams, soaps, and scrubs to ensure compliance with our stringent standards. Check them out - click here

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary samples of these products to facilitate an honest review. Opinions are my own, alone. I was not compensated.

Tea with Mom and A Lovely Mothers' Day Giveaway from EnjoyingTea

I have long enjoyed a nice cup of tea to relax with or to simply warm myself. Tea has been a staple in homes for centuries. There are many types of teas and from many countries.

My personal preferences are varied. I enjoy green tea and spicy Chai. Oolong and black teas are also wonderful. I enjoy my tea hot and I enjoy my tea ice cold. I'm a southerner and for my ice tea I prefer it strong, dark, and very sweet. While I can drink unsweetened tea - hot or cold, I do prefer to add some sugar.

Since I enjoy tea, the Enjoying Tea company is right on target as a good choice. Their selection is varied and suited for most any taste preference. They also carry a beautiful line of tea accessories - tea pots, tea sets, cups and mugs - there is a plethora of wonderful items.
Just look at all these wonderful choices of
tea I will get to enjoy and tell you about .....
This lovely box holds eight adorable tins
of assorted teas! 
More on tea!
I have the opportunity to review eight of their teas and a delicately beautiful English Teacup. This is such a pleasurable opportunity. See this beautiful Royal Court New Bone China English Teacup I just absolutely love it because it is so graceful with its sculptured look and delicate scalloping. "This new bone China English style teacup with saucer is delicate and lovely - Cup Dimension: 4" dia, 2 3/8" ht Saucer Dimension: 5 7/8" dia, 7/8" ht - $7.50"
Royal Court New Bone China English Teacup
Drinking fragrant Provence Rooibas from this Royal Court New Bone China English Teacup is like a heavenly touch. The tea is so smooth and such a delight. The cup is like luxurious satin as it touches your lips and that is how a cup of tea should be taken - out of a satiny smooth teacup.
       The Provence Rooibos is a top grade herbal tea from South Africa. This delicious tea includes Rooibos, rosehip shells, dried black currants, rose leaves, lavender, raisins, dried red currants, rose petals, and dried blueberries.
       Rooibos, meaning Red Bush in Afrikaans, is grown at the altitude of 2000 feet above sea level in the Cedarberg region. Fermentation of the Rooibos turns the leaves from green to deep red and gives a slight sweet note. When brewed this tea produces a reddish orange liquid with a sweet fruity taste and a floral aroma.
       Research has shown Rooibos tea to be a rich natural source of antioxidants with a high level of flavonoids. The absence of caffeine makes it an ideal drink, even at night.
Provence Rooibos brews to a beautiful clear red tea
that is wonderfully fragrant and exceptionally smooth and a delight to drink.

Other teas in this wonderful Variety Tea Sampler - There are so many lovely tea cups on If you love tea and if you love serving it in lovely tea cups (or with a full tea set with pot and cups), be sure you check them out!  

Dragon Well Green Tea, (Lung Ching): This extraordinary green tea comes from the city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province. The flat leaves are harvested in early spring when the leaves are full of aroma and have a silvery shine. Dragon Well is prepared using traditional methods from the most tender tea leaves. These leaves produce a soothing and refreshing champagne colored liquid full of freshness. Semi-sweet in taste and orchid-like in smell, Lung Ching is one of the most famous green tea in China.

Indian Mocha ChaiThis Sri Lankan Chai is made from Indian spices and high-grown Ceylon tea with natural cherry and chocolate flavors. The combination of ingredients gives this tea the depth and character of those served in Chai stands prevalent in India and Sri Lanka. This tea has a superb body with mellow Indian spice notes and overtones of mocha. When brewed this chai is coppery and bright in color and is wonderful served with milk

Chamomile "is one of the oldest herbs still very popular around the world today. It was first used by the ancient Egyptian as medicine. Chamomile is often sipped for relief of ailments ranging from toothache to insomnia. Many people today use this herb as both a remedy to relieve anxiety and as a tisane herbal tea for enjoyment. The chamomile infusion has a floral aroma and fruity apple taste. Since it is caffeine free, it can be enjoy during any time of the day."

Can  you tell I'm enjoying tea time in my house? Next was the interesting Zhejiang Silver Needle. I'd never seen tea in this form before. Interesting! "This white tea with a white downy appearance comes from the province of Zhejiang. The Silver Needle, highest quality white tea, is picked during the spring before the buds open to preserve its tenderness. Exquisite and delicate, Silver Needle has a fresh, sweet fragrance and produces a pale yellow brew."
Zhejiang Silver Needle - Lovely white tea and absolutely delectable. 
(Note: teacup was gifted me by a granddaughter 
and is shaped to see a loving heart.)
As you might have guessed, I'm taking several days to sample these teas and brew them in some of my favorite tea cups. Today's tea is English Breakfast Black Tea. This is tea in a traditional, tried and true form. "This is a classic blend of Sri Lanka Ceylon flowery pekoe (FP) black tea. Although usually served in the morning, it is the perfect refreshing and invigorating tea for any time of the day. When brewed the English Breakfast produces a bright, full bodied, and amber tea." I'm sitting here after dinner, and after cleaning the kitchen, and enjoying a lovely cup of this English Breakfast Black Tea.
This lovely amber tea is English Breakfast Black Tea &
is served in a delicate tea cup brought from England as a
gift to me by my son-in-law.

Delicate in taste and color, the
Dragon Well GreenTea (Lung Ching)
is served in a family heirloom.
Often I find green tea bitter and sometimes "fishy" tasting. I was pleasantly surprised by the  Dragon Well Green Tea, (Lung Ching). I enjoyed this green tea and found it light and pleasantly aromatic. "This extraordinary green tea comes from the city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang province. The flat leaves are harvested in early spring when the leaves are full of aroma."

Strawberry Black Tea. "This tea is made from top grade orange pekoe Ceylon with natural strawberry flavoring. The Ceylon tea is grown at the altitude of 7000 feet above sea level from the Sri Lanka region. When brewed this tea produces a bright coppery color liquid with fresh strawberry flavo"r and with touches of mild astringency. A fantastic fruit tea

The Formosa Paochong, also known as Bao Zhong, is a lightly oxidize Taiwanese oolong tea. The oxidation level is 10% for this tea. After steeping this oolong produces a light green and yellow hue liquor with a floral and melon fragrant and a buttery sweet taste. This tea strikes good balance between a green tea and an oolong tea.

This lovely giveaway from is for a delicate Royal Court New Bone China English Teacup as pictured and an assortment of Enjoying Tea's fabulous teas.
What a wonderful treat for a lovely mother!

Royal Court New Bone China English Teacup
Variety Tea Assortment
Begins April 5 & ENDS April 26 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT. 
Open to USA addresses only.
If you have won a prize from EnjoyingTea from one of Chat With Vera's reviews, you may not win again to the same name and address.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary tea sampler and lovely white china tea cup with saucer to facilitate this review by Enjoying Tea Inc.. Opinions are mine alone. I have not been compensated for this review. The giveaway prize will be provided and shipped to the winner by Enjoying Tea Inc.

Back In the Saddle by Ruth Logan Herne [Review & 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?

My thoughts: The author has woven a multi-storied tale that resembles a bird's nest in it's complexity and strengths. While the "theme" of the prodigal returning is a surface story with rugged cowboy turned New York financier returning to the ranch after the financial world plunges downward dragging him with it, I don't see this as a weakness of Colt's but as a strength. He recognizes his need to return to his home where his father, who has fallen ill, can use his expertise as a cow wrangler and it serves his own need as well. He is not too proud to recognize he has a need and faces the challenge of returning in "shame" to family and friends.

Along with Colt's story, there is a layer of family in crisis and the story of the repentant father who is seeking to make up for his many shortcomings and failures through the years as a father to his broken and hurting family.

And the lovely and interesting Angelina has a story that intrigues and draws Colt. Of course, her beauty and kindness are a "draw" as well.

Ah, there is also a charming wee little one that is tightly woven into this nest of complexity with whom you'll fall in love - just as I did.

Ruth Hogan Herne has given us a good read of contemporary ranching complete with vivid roundups in terrible cold and of newborn calves being cared for by rough and tumble cowboys.
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.

Read more reviews - click here

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.