Thursday, June 30, 2016

Murder Mezzo Forte (Lamplighter Mysteries) by Donn Taylor [Giveaway]

He is a reclusive history professor with musical hallucinations, she a headstrong professor of religion, a converted Wiccan. Earlier, they solved a campus murder, but now police say they formed two-thirds of an illicit love triangle with a newly-murdered female colleague and they're probably guilty of her murder. A leak of the alleged scandal to the college administration threatens their jobs. Their desperate attempt to prove themselves innocent of the triangle and the murder plunges them into a tangle of unsavory corporate relationships among college trustees. And it puts their lives in danger from a mysterious criminal organization that seems to have tentacles everywhere.

Can this ill-matched pair's stumbling efforts succeed against the entrenched forces of the police, the college's incompetent administration, and that powerful but unseen criminal organization? If not, they may end up unemployed, in prison, or suffering a fate much worse . . .

Begins July 1
Ends July 14 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the author: Donn Taylor is a novelist and poet of varied career. He led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he earned a PhD in English literature (Renaissance) and for eighteen years taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His fiction includes a light-hearted mystery, Rhapsody in Red, a historical, Lightning on a Quiet Night (a finalist for the Selah Awards), and two suspense novels, Deadly Addictive and The Lazarus File. He has also published a book of poetry, Dust and Diamond: Poems of Earth and Beyond. He is a frequent speaker at writers' groups and conferences. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction and poetry, as well as essays on writing, ethical issues, and U.S. foreign policy.

Sea Rose Lane (A Hope Harbor Novel) by Irene Hannon

ISBN13: 9780800727543
My thoughts: This story is simply a sweet and gracious, definitely  lovely read. No, it isn't an "old lady's' story" because its appeal is multi-generational.

The characters are believable and you'll want to get to know them yourself and walk alongside them as they experience life in Hope Harbor. The author's lovely coastal town depiction with its special charm just grows on the reader. Makes you want to throw your own stuff in your car and head down the road to Hope Harbor.

As the two newest arrivals to Hope Harbor meet and begin to grow on each other, a sweet romance begins budding.

I missed reading Hope Harbor, book one in the Hope Harbor series. After reading BJ's and Eric's story (and those other wonderful Hope Harbor resident's stories) in Sea Rose Lane, I certainly will try not to miss reading Ms. Hannon's next book in this series. I always know an Irene Hannon book will be a delightful read, well done, and with wonderful characters.

About the book: After a devastating layoff, attorney Eric Nash heads back to the town where he grew up--only to discover that his childhood home is being transformed into a bed & breakfast. Instead of plotting his next career move in peace, he's constantly distracted by noise, chaos--and BJ Stevens, the attractive but prickly blonde architect and construction chief who's invaded the house with her motley crew.

As for BJ, her client's son might be handsome, but after a disastrous romance, dating isn't high on her agenda. Yet when they join forces to create a program for Hope Harbor seniors, might they also find healing, hope, and a new beginning themselves?

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Revell to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review nor compelled to render a positive review.

Indian Boyhood: The True Story of a Sioux Upbringing by Charles Alexander Eastman (1858-1939) [Review & Giveaway]

Publisher: Wisdom Tales
ISBN-13: 978-1937786564
About the book: Indian Boyhood recalls Eastman’s earliest childhood memories. He was born in a buffalo hide tipi in western Minnesota, and raised in the traditional Dakota Sioux manner until he was fifteen years old. He was then transplanted into the “white man’s” world. Educated at Dartmouth College, he went on to become a medical doctor, renowned author, field secretary for the YMCA, and a spokesman for American Indians. Eastman was at Pine Ridge during the “Ghost Dance” rebellion of 1890-91, and he cared for the wounded Indians after the massacre at Wounded Knee. In 1910 he began his long association with the Boy Scouts of America, helping Ernest Thompson Seton establish the organization. A 2007 HBO film, entitled Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, features American Indian actor Adam Beach as Eastman.

My thoughts:  This is a first-hand experience story written many years ago by a Sioux Indian, Ohiyesa (Charles Alexander Eastman, his white man's world name) recounting his boyhood as he was raised in the traditional Sioux Indian way. It is fascinating to learn how this child grew thoroughly immersed in the Indian world and then went on into adulthood and assimilated into the white man's world as a highly educated doctor and published author.Originally published in 1902 by Charles Eastman recounting his traditional Dakota Sioux childhood. Mr. Eastman lived 1859 to 1939 so he was intrinsically involved.

Indian Boyhood is the story of a disappearing culture even during this recounted childhood, and it is wonderful to see that today's publishers and editors see the value in a resurgence of this man's story and are adapting and publishing it for today's children to read and learn about original Americans.

While the book doesn't have much "girl appeal," it is certainly a valuable source of information for any child. Targeted for age four and up, the text flows easily and simply states in a very simple form what transpires as the boy grows until he leaves with his re-discovered father for the white man's world. 

The illustrations are very well done and capture the essence of the Indian life the story details. I like that the book opens with pictures of the author in traditional Indian clothes as well as his white man's world clothes. At the end of the book, there is a list of explanations that helps to understand the illustrations.

A very good book for simply learning about the young Indian boy's life. A must for school libraries.
Begins 6/30
ENDS 7/20/2016 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Wisdom Tales to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Watermelon Slicer Corer by Maestro of Comfort

Some folks really enjoy a kitchen full of gadgets to make cooking fun, interesting, easy, and different. This little gadget - Watermelon Slicer - is just that. A fun, interesting, and different gadget that can make getting the fruit out of the rind of the watermelon. I know what a melon ball scooper is because I've had one and used it in the past. But a slicer? New to me.

When I removed the slicer / tongs from the box, I looked for instructions on how to use. There were none so it became an exercise of trial and error. I finally accomplished slicing the melon without too much destruction and believe I've about got the hang of it.

I can see that this makes for a nice, neat way to slice 'n scoop at the same time. It leaves the rind as a bowl full of the juices and makes cleanup a bit easier. You'll be left with some bits 'n pieces of melon that you can place in a container for later nibbling but you can get the bulk of the melon out of the hull and serve it right up.

I still need to practice. I've worked on the first half of the round, seedless melon. I can't wait to see how accomplished I become on the other half. Getting this nifty gadget here in June is just in time for all that wonderful watermelon feasting!
DISCLOSURE: I received a highly discounted product to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated to render a review. I was not required to render a positive review.

Monday, June 27, 2016

All Summer Long by Melody Carlson, published by Revell (Contemporary Christian Fiction)

ISBN13: 9780800723583
Tia D'Amico is thrilled to move to San Francisco to help her aunt transform an old luxury yacht into an upscale floating restaurant. What's not to love? Sunset dinner cruises, posh wedding receptions--the possibilities are endless and far more appetizing than staying in a monotonous job in her Podunk hometown. Besides, some of her best memories are tied to San Francisco--especially the memory of Leo Parker, her crush from a long-ago sailing camp.

When Leo Parker himself turns out to be the yacht's captain, Tia is floating on air. But will it all come crashing down around her when she discovers his heart belongs to someone else?

My thoughts: This is a light, sweet read. So pull up a chair on the porch or at the beach or wherever you're retreating, and relax. All Summer Long moves gently through the renovation of an old yacht basking in the sun and breezes of San Francisco and the Bay. Nearby are the fabled houseboats of Sausalito and the male lead lives on one he inherited.

Having visited San Francisco several times and enjoyed the many captivating views of the City, the Bay, and the quaintness of Sausalito, I looked forward to a story set in those environs. I was not disappointed. I've seen scenes across the bay at night and in the fog and when the sun glistened on the water. I've felt the wonderful breeze. So when these were described, I felt I was there.

This is a heartwarming story that holds a charm unlike so many modern novels. Uplifting in that the main characters are people of faith and not afraid to voice their desire to pray. I love the scenes where the young folks gather on deck for gatherings around the firepit, singing and playing varied musical instruments.

This is a story that while mainly about young adults is a good read for teens, young adults, and the rest of us who have a few more years on us. A safe, clean read.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy from the publisher, Revell, to facilitate this
review. I was not compensated for the review and opinions are my own, alone.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

National Geographic Kids: 100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up & Awesome 8 (50 Top 8 Lists) [Review & Giveaway]

Today we're looking at two National Geographic Kids books for ages 8 and up. Actually, Mom and Dad will gain a lot of knowledge from these two books. In 100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up the adults might find themselves learning just as the kids are doing. And in the Awesome 8 book National Geographic gives a lot of lists and each has eight in the list.

And to make the adventure more fun, we're giving one of Chat With Vera readers a copy of each of these books. This will be a great addition to summer fun-learning!

About the book: 100 Things to Know Before You Grow Up (ages 9-12)

Jam-packed with tips, tricks and skills that every kids should master before turning 18, this is the ultimate guide to expanding ones horizons and becoming a fun-loving, well-rounded and confident young person. A perfect graduation gift or addition to a camp care package, kids will love the expert advice from Nat Geo Explorers, adventurers and masters of their craft from around the world.

My thoughts: There is such a plethora of information packed in this small book. Information of how-to-do these things is presented in a great graphic manner, bright and colorful, great photographs, and step-by-step instructions. Easily understood and easy to work through, each individual list is really going a fun way to learn. Each list is done by experts in that particular area. But not only are there how-to-do lists, there are also how-to-be list that help behaviorally. There are instructions on developing specific skills as well as lists that are curiosity solvers.

... Balance a checkbook .... Sooth a bee sting .... Tie Three Basic Knots ... Pack a Suitcase ...

Some things are "you really need to know this" types and some are "this is fun to know" types. This will be a great little book to have in the home and used kind of like a "bucket list of things to know how to do."

Awesome 8 (ages 8-12)

About the book: A new series from Nat Geo Kids Books,
Awesome 8 is the ultimate go-to guide for curious kids who want to know the who, what and where of the coolest things on the planet. With 50 top-8 lists, every turn of the page presents a different theme and counts down the greatest of the great top 8 of its kind. Awesome 8 lists include Coolest
Coasters, Haughtiest Hotels, Wicked Water Slides, Perilous Predators, Remarkable Ruins, Weirdest Wonders and Swankiest Subways. Great for reluctant readers, each Awesome 8 list appears in photographs, layered with fun facts and insightful stories.

My thoughts: Sometimes it is just fun to look at and learn about things a bit off-the-wall or just simply cool-to-know things. Sometimes it is fun to just see these awesome things - well, at least to see pictures of them, and be amazed that such is part of our world or such is part of the amazing inventions of people.

Complete with a great Table of Contents and an awesome Index, this will prove to be a grand source for delving into bits of research when the mind wants to take a journey to see some "awesomeness." Each two page spread is replete with 8 awesome things, places, critters, etc. and they are all shown in awesome photographs and enough text to tantalize the mind and senses.

This is a strong, well-bound, soft-cover book that will see lots of use and really help keep the kids and Mom and Pop out of the summer slump. Might even be helpful in making a "bucket list" of some awesome stuff and places to see.

2 books for 1 winner
Begins June 26
Ends July 17 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I was provided complimentary copies to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Lucky Litter, The: Wolf Pups Rescued from Wildfire by Jennifer Keats Curtis Illustrated by John Gomes

When a huge wildfire roared along the Funny River in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, firefighters rushed to the rescue. Finding not one but five wolf pups in need, they raced into action to save the whole litter. With no wolf parents to help, zookeepers and vets at the Alaska Zoo made sure the babies grew into a healthy, happy pack. Follow this true story as the helpless pups move from the charred refuge to the Alaska Zoo, finally becoming big and strong enough to move into their forever home at the Minnesota Zoo.

My thoughts: A sweet story of a pack of wolf pups who were seemingly abandoned and trapped in a wildfire. Rescued by firefighters, the pups were then taken to a place where they could be adequately cared for by professionals.

While these pups were not returned to the wild once they reached an age where they could presumably care for themselves, they were kept and cared for in a zoo focused on a healthy existence for them.

The book presents how important it is for species such as wolves not be allowed to be removed from the wild existence. They are considered a keystone specices upon which the eco-balance of animal, plant, land, and water exist.

The story is multi-leveled in that the reader can learn about wolves, about the eco system, about rescuing endangered wildlife, and about the proper care of wild animals. It is suitable for kindergarten and older based on the way the material in the book is presented to the child and utilized by the parent, child, or educator.

The back of the book has an abundance of information that will enhance the reader's understanding and comprehension of the subject. As this book is read, interest in further material on the subject by the child should be encouraged. Online has proved a valuable asset in multi-disciplined worksheets to use utilizing this book and others which Arbordale has published.

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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sugar and Spice Gifts and Treats Spa Items (Etsy shop) for wonderful homemade bath treats [Review & Giveaway-US & CANADA]

I knew that Etsy stores or shops online were primarily owned by people who had small home businesses and who made crafty items to sell. I've seen pictures of some of these items and been quite impressed by the talents that are fueling this cottage industry. I love the entrepreneurial spirit of these Etsy businesses - many of them the dream of moms, sisters, aunts, friends. We should support their efforts - especially when they merit it by producing something as lovely as these products.

At Sugar and Spice Gifts and Treats, products are handmade, natural and chemical free, come in a wide variety of colours & scents, and custom orders are encouraged!
My package of lovely treats came packed in a beautiful keepsake box with lovely roses and writing all over it - portends of loveliness inside. I could hardly wait to lift the lid. When I did, I saw the beauties lovingly individually wrapped in pink tissue. Tucked in were also the lovely silky-gauge bag of soap with the little satin bow ribbon. I can hardly wait to experience all this girlyness!

The owner of Sugar and spice Gifts and Treats is Canada based and has developed a line of lovely bath products and even a few other items such as laundry needs. She also packages her items beautifully. Bath salts, bath fizzies, and such are in canning jars such as you would put your prize home made jams and jellies. The she decorates these with lovely "jewels" and fabric cutouts on the lids. The effect is charming. Bath Bombs are thoroughly wrapped in a plastic container and then placed in a frou-frou bag with netting and tied with a pretty ribbon. Soaps are wrapped and placed in a lovely bag and have added bling or glitz.
Unwrapped! Each beautiful item waiting for my enjoyment. I can hardly wait to try this relaxing lavender bath salts and that lovely pink goat soap (see the lovely butterfly "bling"..... Oh Joy! 

This is the stuff to get your "girly" on and give yourself or someone else some really good "spa-time-treats." Now just what was in my package?

  • Mango Bath Bomb (large) - This is absolutely divine! Subtle fragrance. Silky smooth feeling and wonderful to the skin. So relaxing! [Handmade to order. Ingredients: Citric Acid, Baking Soda, Sweet Almond Oil, Meringue Powder, Powdered Sugar, Epsom Salts, Fragrance, Colour]
  • Orchid Almond Rose Soap Sample - So pretty! This lightly fragrant soap lathers fine & luxurious. Skin is left feeling soft and smooth. [Handmade. Ingredients: Goat Milk Soap, Glycerin Soap, Fragrance, Colour] 
  • Lavender Bath Salts - I thoroughly enjoyed my lovely bath soak using these light salts. The lavender scent is light and pleasant. Relaxing! [Homemade. Ingredients: Mineral Salts, Sea Salts, Fragrance, Colour]
  • Body Scrub -  The fragrance is ever so slight and the oil light. I like that this scrub is much less oily than those I've previously used and the fragrance light. The cute little jar is plastic but looks glass making it safe to use in the bath area. [Homemade. Ingredients: Fragrance, Colour, Coconut Oil, Epsom Salts]
  • Guest Goat Milk Fizzies - I tried the Chocolate Mint Bath Bomb Fizzies. Opening the pretty jar I caught a whiff of this delectable scent - a bit minty and a bit chocolaty. I plopped 2 into my bath and they fizzed and made the water so silky feeling. Very nice! [Handmade. Ingredients: Citric Acid, Baking Soda, Sweet Almond Oil, Fragrance, Colour]
Now a final look at real close up. See the lovely jars. You can reuse these for all kinds of things. Gift something to someone in them. Put cotton balls in them. Store a little bits of treasure!

Sugar & Spice Gifts & Treats has a special offer during the month of June: Free shipping on the Bubble Bars - CLICK HERE

Prize for Giveaway
Begins June 23
Ends July 14 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA only. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary products from Sugar & Spice Gifts & Treats to facilitate this review. I was not compensated and opinions are my very own.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Flight of Arrows by Lori Benton (The Path Finders Book 2)

My thoughts: As the second book in The Pathfinder Series opens the story picks up where The Woods Edge closes. During a time of war and unrest, war is waging between The Crown (England) and the Continentals (The Americans). Each side has large contingencies of native Indians from a variety of tribes fighting with them.

But this story is about two families in the midst of all the turmoil of 1776 and 1777. White and Indian. Mixed breeds. And stolen sons. The saga, for it is a lengthy telling of that period's history, shows the hearts - fears and hatreds - of each. It shows how God has impacted Indians and how they pursue the path of walking with their Creator God. Their faith is strong.

 Lori Benton has thoroughly researched this story and this period of history. She brings authenticity. I am impressed with her treatment of the Indians in the story as she doesn't stage them as savages. She tells a bit of their own civilization and their unique human existence.

This is a long book and the scenes and events are written in such detail that you want to take your time in the reading. Character development is thorough and exhaustive. You see their strengths and their weaknesses. You experience their joy and their sorrows. You understand their reticence and their exuberance.

While war and battles are indeed depicted, loyalties are tested all around, and yet the story is not so raw that the reading makes one ill.

Lori Benton is an author whose works I always look forward to reading.

Click here to download Chapter 1

About the book: Twenty years past, in 1757, a young Redcoat, Reginald Aubrey stole a newborn boy—the lighter-skinned of Oneida twins— during the devastating fall of Fort William Henry and raised him as his own.

No one connected to Reginald escaped unscathed from this crime. Not his adopted daughter Anna. Not Stone Thrower, the Native American father determined to get his son back. Not Two Hawks, William’s twin brother separated since birth, living in the shadow of his absence and hoping to build a future with Anna. Nor Lydia, who longs for Reginald to be free from his self-imposed emotional prison and embrace God’s forgiveness— and her love.

Now William, whose identity has been shattered after discovering the truth of his birth, hides in the ranks of an increasingly aggressive British army. The Redcoats prepare to attack frontier New York and the Continentals, aided by Oneida warriors including Two Hawks, rally to defend it. As the Revolutionary War penetrates the Mohawk Valley, two families separated by culture, united by love and faith, must find a way to reclaim the son marching toward them in the ranks of their enemies.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Blogging for Books on behalf of WaterBrook Press and the author to facilitate this review. I was not compensated. Opinions are my own.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Let's hear from Kell Andrews author of MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE [Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

Children's books have found a new niche that renders them an effective educational tool as well as a real piece of entertainment. I've found several along the way and it amazes me how an author can turn education into fun. Kids want to read books like this, but the key is making them interesting, appealing to the visual and mental senses, and capturing their full attention. Here is a bit about Kell Andrews's experience in developing MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE.

Mixing Science Fact and Fiction in Mira Forecasts the Future

I was looking for a fun way to write about the sciences, and I thought of the weather. I love kids nonfiction, but I’m a fiction writer. I brainstormed a way to build a story around it, and that story turned into MIRA FORECASTS THE FUTURE.

 When I was growing up, my family was obsessed with the weather, and once we got cable, we watched The Weather Channel every night. Until then, the weather had just been a few square inches of the newspaper or a few minutes of the nightly news. We had a thermometer, barometer, windvanes, and rain gauges, but I didn’t forecast the weather myself -- it was more of a spectator sport.

It doesn’t need to be. Children can observe and track the weather with very few tools -- just a thermometer and their own eyes. And with easy availability of weather apps and satellite photos, they have tools at their disposal that Mira never dreamed of.

Turning Weather into a Story

Kell Andrews, author
Mira Forecasts the Future
So how to make weather forecasting work in fiction ? It occurred to me that predicting the weather is a real-life way of predicting the future using science, and I noticed how interested my own children were in the little paper fortune tellers they folded and made.

From there I came up with Mira, an inept fortuneteller turned weather wonder girl whose predictions her whole beach town comes to rely on. New to fiction/nonfiction hybrids, I studied a lot of texts, and one I liked a lot was Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money, by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Brian Karas. So I wrote the weather information as backmatter.

Later, when I was working with Sterling Kids, editor Zaneta Jung asked my to incorporate the factual information into the story, and illustrator Lissy Marlin turned into a visual in the middle of the book as Mira researches in the library before she tries her own hand at meteorology.

I hope readers get inspired by Mira’s love of weather -- whether they make their own predictions or get fascinated by another area of science. There’s so much kids can do now to learn about and participate in science -- it’s much easier to forecast the future if you start working towards it now.

 May be purchased at Barnes & Noble

About the book: Telling the future is a gift: you either have it, or you don’t. And Mira, daughter of the famous fortune teller Madame Mirabella, just doesn't. When Madame gazes into the crystal ball, magic swirls. When Mira looks . . . nothing. Then one day Mira gets a pinwheel and a windsock, she finds her own form of “magic” in the science of predicting the weather—and saves the day for everyone! This engaging tale, with a fun touch of science thrown in, helps kids understand that we all have our own special talent.
Begins June 22
ENDS July 13 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: This guest post was provided by Sterling Children's Books an imprint of Sterling Publishing on behalf of the author, Kell Andrews, to promote this book. I was not compensated for posting this review.
NOTE: This story does incorporate the skills of Mira's mother, Madame Mirabella, who is a fortune teller at the beach and Mira bemoaning the fact that she does not have the fortune telling skill as well. I appreciate Mira's discovering points about predicting the weather and it makes for a cute story.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Snow Dog, Sand Dog by Linda Joy Singleton & illustrated by Jess Golden [Review & Giveaway]

When play is the work of children and imagination the fuel of discovery, the longings of a child's heart become fantastically real to them enabling them to engage in a world of wonder.

In Snow Dog. Sand Dog we have a little girl who so very much desires to have a dog of her own. But alas, dogs cause her to go Achoo!! so a dog to play with is simply not in the picture. That is until little Ally begins to draw pictures of her own dogs.

As the seasons cycle, Ally plays out-of-doors with her friends. In snow, they build snowmen. In snow, Allie builds a snow dog which then proceeds to follow her home and play. But all snow dogs melt when the season changes. So then a new dog is needed.

Delightfully written where the child will enjoy as a read-aloud and stay focused. The story flows beautifully. The illustrations are charming, cute, and playfully romping across the pages. Definitely will capture the child's attention. This is most assuredly a "happy" book.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this sweet little book and trekked along through the seasons with Ally and her seasonal dogs - with nary an Achoo!
Begins June 20
Ends July 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Albert Whitman & Company publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for the review.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch: The Adventures of Punkin and Boo (Volume 1) by Patrick E.Craig [Review & Giveaway]

  • ISBN: 978-0996533423
  • Pages: 132
  • Ages: Teens 
My thoughts: I truly love Mr. Craig's adult Amish fiction stories. His gift as a writer is fantastic and I love his way with imparting the story, characters, scenes, and truths. He is truly a word-smith that excels at his craft. I was curious about his capacity to write for a younger audience but felt he would bring authenticity to his stories and yet be able to entertain these young readers. That is not an easy task because Middle-readers are difficult to engage.

I love the two girl characters in Ghost Dancer Ranch - Punkin and Boo. They are cousins and are really getting themselves into some interesting situations during their summer break at Grandma's and Grandpa's ranch. Their escapades remind me much of the old Nancy Drew mysteries.

The story shows how easily a mixture of native Indian spiritual worship and that of basic Christianity can become a confusing mixture. The story also shows the insidious determination of gambling and casino elements creeping into the Indian culture. I especially love the grandparents. And the two girls are spot-on for young teens. Love the Christian elements in the book and the good clean read this is.

A real plus in Patrick E. Craig's Ghost Dancer Ranch stories is that all the historical information is true and the only fictional Indian characters are Red Bull and Jack Wilson. The rest of the Ghost Dancer History including Sitting Bull, Wavoka, Kicking Bear, the Bole Maru, and even Richard Taylor are real history and characters.

Patrick E. Craig, we are looking for more adventures of Punkin and Boo!
Begins June 16
Ends July 10 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT

Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
About the book: The Mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch is the gripping story of two teenage cousins who are thrown together for the summer at their Grandparents’ ranch in California. While exploring the old ranch, the girls stumble on a mystery that involves desperate crooks, the ghost of a long-dead Sioux War Chief, a young Native American man on a mission to save his tribe, and secret tunnels and caves left over from an old Spanish Mission. Throw in a guardian angel who protects the girls from some evil spirits that want to bring the story to a bad end, and you have The Mystery of Ghost Dancer Ranch, the first in a series of faith-filled mystery adventures for kids, featuring Punkin and Boo.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bionova eye care products: Eye Anti-Stress & Eye Treatment Cleanse/Makeup Remover Restoring Healthy Skin [Review & Giveaway]

From the initial impression,
you sense this is a luxury product!
I have been given the opportunity to try the Bionova skin care products - specifically the Eye Anti-Stress products for caring for the skin around one's eyes. According to the folks at Bionova, each product is designed for a specific skin type and specific age. They use nanotechnology for their products. I don't have a clue what this means. They state that their products do not use plants or animal products or chemicals foreign to the human body. Also, it is my understanding that they use nano quantities of nanoparticles.

Not being a scientists, I can't speak to what this means. I can only address how I feel about the two products I have been given to evaluate. As I use the products according to their directions, I apply a tiny amount of the Eye Treatment Cleanse/Makeup Remover (filled with vitamins and antioxidants) to cleanse the area around the eyes and the eye lids. I allow this to sit a minute or so (I did something like brush my teeth while I waited). Then I rinse it off gently with warm water and pat dry the area. They suggest cleansing the skin even if one doesn't use mascara or eye makeup so you can remove oil, dead skin, and dust.

The cleansing liquid in the bottle is lovely.
The cream in the jar is light and luxurious.
Next, I apply a very small amount of the Eye Anti-Stress with my finger, tapping the product onto the eye lids (upper and lower) and the outer corner areas and the frown line between brows. Making sure I don't "scrub" it in and being certain to cover the entire area but being sure not to get it into my eyes.

I found that there is a stinging type of sensation (not every time, though) and the folks at Bionova say that I should "welcome the sting" because that means it is working. It isn't unpleasant and I'm not alarmed.

I love the scent of it which reminds me of those days when I used to bring freshly dried clothes in from outside on the line - only quite a bit better. So fresh and appealing.


With BIONOVA your skin starts getting the same ingredients' composition (not a single ingredient) in the same quantities that the skin consists of. The cells are smart and absorb right away what they need for healthy functioning (when the stinging sensation takes place). When aging, cells stop functioning in a full capacity. 
The Eye product offers a specially balanced for this area Nanocomplex of multiple vitamins, anti-free radical scavengers, enzymes and another Nanocomplex of Intermediate Density Lipoproteins, Bioactive Carbohydrates, and glycosaminoglycans especially balanced for the eye area.

Each Nanocomplex might contain from 80-100 Hyper Natural ingredients. As you see, in a simple eye cream there are so many Hyper Natural ingredients that imitate this particular area.  And none of them would work independently; only in a group. That is how our body operates. Fascinates us each time we write about it!
We believe it is important to deliver the message that there is a brand that restores the healthy skin functioning, enhances the skin barrier system that secures the entire body functioning. It is like having gates to your property. The skin is your Gates. Stronger they are, safer you feel. Beauty comes along!

BIONOVA offers different lines that differ by preciseness of customization: 

N1 Custom line we call "You in a Jar." This line offers a product that made for You, based on doctor's designed questionnaire that includes Gender, Age, Skin concern, Skin problem, Personal profile, the Weather condition and much more. Available on

IMPACT line is customized by Gender, Age group, Skin concern, the Skin problem. Available on,

The 'bn science" line is customized by Gender, Skin concern, the Skin problem. Available on

All lines use the same ingredients and are powerful and efficient. The difference, as you see, is in preciseness.   
Taking care of my skin, especially around the eyes is a priority for me now. It wasn't always so. My allergies have caused me to really abuse my eyes by rubbing them when they itch and tear up which is bad for the skin and can cause deterioration of the tender skin in this area.

The jury is still out on these products. I am finding them to be pleasant to use. The cleanser takes just a tiny amount to work. The eye cream is pleasant to use. I love the scent. I have had NO ADVERSE EFFECTS. The product is not budget-friendly but is definitely doable and it is sold in very high-end department sores such as Barneys of New York. (see links below for online access)

I am enjoying using the products and would look forward to reviewing more in their line. So basically speaking, I think this is a winner and a product line I can highly recommend.
BIONOVA 3-Step Skin Regimen Kit (3piece)
Begins June 15
Ends July 6 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
(Winner will choose Skin Type: Dry Skin, 
Mature Skin, Combination Skin, Sensitive Skin, Normal Skin)
Prize: $69 Value
Bottom picture is prior to Bionova.
Top picture is after about 2 weeks use of Bionova.
I took these pictures myself and believe I am seeing some improvement.
DISCLOSURE: I received the two products free of charge to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for my review. Winner's products will be shipped directly to them by BIONOVA.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Kill Devil by Mike Dellosso (Tyndale Fiction)

Before we get to my review, there are a couple of questions and answers from Mike Dellosso that give us some insight into him as an author and into the premise of this book....

How did you come up with the concept for the Jed Patrick series?

It started with my obsession with the Jason Bourne series and character. I love the whole concept. I’ve also been interested in government conspiracy theories, coverups, black-ops, that whole sort of “underworld” that exists in the shadows. I’m also quite a family man. So that got me thinking about what it could look like if those two worlds collided. What if a family man discovers that he has a past he has no memory of and that the mysterious past involved conspiracy, cover-ups, black-ops and him being a super soldier? Then to top it off I wanted to put a unique spin on it and infuse elements of faith into the story. That alone set the concept apart and opened a whole new world of possibilities for the storyline.

You don’t shy away from violence in your novels. How do you handle writing those situations as a Christian author?

I handle them carefully. I know it may not seem like it to some readers but I do put a lot of thought into how I handle violence in my books. I want the reader to feel the gravity of the situation, the intensity of the moment, but I need to draw the line on how much I describe and finding where that line should be is a challenge at times. I’m sure I’ve crossed the line at times for some readers but for me, I’m careful to stay on the side that gives the reader the information he or she needs without glorifying the violence or glamorizing it.

My thoughts: A story with as much intrigue, danger, corruption, and violence as well as a high element of surreal scenes is usually thought to be the domain of the male reader. I had seen the first book in this series, Centralia, and for some reason - perhaps a bit of squeamishness - I didn't choose to read it (it now resides on my to-be-read shelf). With the opening of Kill Devil the reader is immediately immersed into scary drama as it unfolds for Karen, sweet Lilly, and Jed. They've been found and it is not good.

Mike Dellosso captured my attention right away and I read on. And on. And on. This is a read that will virtually have the reader - male and female alike, literally holding their breath. And it would have been better to have read Centralia first, but it is not a do-or-die miss.

The surreal scenes are caused by mind manipulation and this makes one wonder just how far today's scientists or those of the future will go to manipulate people and create super warriors.

You've gotta love sweet little Lilly as she voices her strong faith in God. She is a true inspiration to the reader just like she is to her Mom and Dad. This is a faith infused story but it is not overwhelmingly so. These are simply folks who love God and place their trust in Him even in the most trying situations.

I liked the book and wonder is Mike Dellosso is going to give us a sequel?

About the book: Jed Patrick is convinced he’s doing all it takes to keep his family safe—new names, new location, new identity. But just when he thinks he finally has his life back, trained men claiming to be CIA agents break in and threaten his wife and daughter, proving once and for all his family will never truly be safe until he eliminates the agency dead set on hunting him down.

Not knowing if Karen and Lilly are better off by his side or in hiding, Jed is determined to protect them while finding a way to use the classified information that he possesses to dismantle the Centralia Project. But he soon learns that eliminating Centralia may require compromising his own values. As danger escalates, Jed isn’t sure whether there’s anyone or anything he can trust—including his own senses.

Mike Dellosso is the author of several novels of suspense, an adjunct professor of creative writing and popular conference teacher, a husband, and a father. Born in Baltimore, Mike now resides in southern Pennsylvania with his wife and four daughters. His latest novel is Centralia.
- See more at:

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Tyndale House Publishers to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for the review.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd (Treasures of Surrey Series) [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: Sarah E. Ladd has written a graceful story about a young lady raised in a school for children from homes of lesser means or orphaned. As the book opens, she learns that she is not entirely without family and that she is being claimed and must now journey to the home of a previously unknown aunt.

She is treated as treasured for her beauty and who will be married off as quickly as possible. Without dowry to make a grand marriage, she is to be betrothed to the head of the local foundlings school. She has feelings of uncertainty about this gentleman and fears future involvement.

The beautiful and dark forest seems to beckon her, and her young sister. They are warned to stay away from it because danger lurks within. But little sister, Lizzie, wanders  into its depths, gets frightened by some scary men, and hides.

The story meanders along at a gentle pace giving the reader a glimpse into the status a poor relative has in the home of the landed gentry of England in the early 1800s. At her aunt's mercy and having no place else to go, young Isabel tries to adjust. With two handsome young men nearby, her heart discovers qualities and dislikes about them that give her pause to wonder.

A bit of a mystery. A glimpse into social mores of the time. A bit of danger. A sweet little eight year old. And a landed gentleman-magistrate. What an opportunity for a nice read. Written as Christian fiction, it is not pronounced in it's Biblical leanings. The work is clean, gentle, and you won't be afraid to let a young teen or a dear grandmother read it.

About the book: Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.

For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father's death.

The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel's small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.

At her new family's invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore---along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.

At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it---in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.


Begins 6/10
Ends 6/15 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author info: Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

"Among A Thousand Fireflies" and two other books by Helen Frost, photography by Rick Lieder [Review & Giveaway-US/CANADA]

I just became acquainted with the beautiful works of Helen Frost and photographer Rick Lieder and have fallen in love with and am awed with the splendid beauty of the photography as it captures the wonders of birds and insects. The sparse lines of prose so beautifully intersect with the beauty of the images that one's mind journeys deeply into the eye-capturing visions of loveliness.

Published by Candlewick Press these are considered children's books but should also be considered as a coffee table keepsake book that one can pickup and take a few moments to gaze and revel in our absolutely lovely world.

Among a Thousand Fireflies - published in 2016

If you've ever watched the fireflies dance about on a summer's evening in your backyard or out where it is quiet and dark in the evening, you have probably marveled at these delightful insects and perhaps have even begged a lidded jar in which to capture a few.

I know that in our home in the middle of North Carolina, this was a favorite past time of our children. Of course, we couldn't linger too long because those famous North Carolina mosquitoes would be in abundance, too. But capturing the glowing fireflies was a joy, a marvel, an experience to revel in as a child and remember as an adult.

Among A Thousand Fireflies takes us in the backyard and introduces us in a gentle and beautiful way to the stunning firefly.

"In a summer meadow near the river, as night's first stars blink on, a firefly steps into a flower."

At the end of A Thousand Fireflies there is a page dedicated to teaching the reader some interesting facts about these insects. They are not flies, they are beetles and when they glow in the larval stage they are called "glowworms."

See entry form below for opportunity to have your own copy of Among A Thousand Fireflies.

Step Gently Out - published in 2012

If you've ever quietly watched an insect or "bug" you have probably noticed how they seem to move with practiced or deliberate ease and gentleness. So in Step Gently Out the author and photographer show us their beauty....

Frost and Lieder take us through the day - morning sunshine, evening shadows and dark, and then the dew of morning. This is a lovely trek through the day as ......

"In song and dance and stillness, they share the world with you."

A gentle reminder that we're not alone in this world, we share it with the insects, the birds, the critters.

"A spider spins a silken thread and steps across the air."
"A praying mantis looks at you - do you know she's there?"

At the end of the book, Step Gently Out, there are two pages for the reader to learn more about each of the insects pictured in the book. Another great opportunity to educate with a beautiful book.

Sweep Up the Sun - published in 2015

About the book: Illuminated by exquisite photographs of eleven species of birds, a spare and elegant poem inspires readers to open their wings and soar.

Baby robins, open-beaked in their nest. Mallards winging to a new clime. Whether chickadees or cardinals, sparrows or starlings, here are commonly seen birds in their natural settings, captured in photographs of rare beauty and grace.

In perfect synchrony, a lyrical narrative evokes images of play and flight, perseverance and trust. At the end, readers will find profiles of the featured species. This stunning book is an ideal gift for bird lovers of all ages, graduates, or anyone embarking on an adventure.

My thoughts: Rick Lieder's photography is stunning. You will be tempted to sit and look at these pictures for long periods of time because they capture the grace and beauty of the birds and at the most exquisite moment as their wings sweep through the air.

Helen Frost's words capture the true essence that is these lovely birds putting into words their grace.

"Rise into the air on the strength of your wings--
go out to play in the sky,
trusting it to hold you
as you learn to fly."

I have always been enthralled by the beauty and magnificence that is designed into these winged creatures we call birds. This little book is more than a "birding" book, it takes you to their moments of grace and strength.

At the end of this book are a couple of pages dedicated to imparting factual information about the birds pictured in the book. Super nice information.

I heartily recommend all three of these books!

A copy of Among A Thousand Fireflies
Begins June 11
Ends June 30 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of each of these books from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. I was not compensated for my review. Opinions are my own. Winner's copy is provided by Candlewick and shipped directly to them by Candlewick.

Friday, June 10, 2016

***FLASH GIVEAWAY*** Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd (Regency Romance) from Thomas Nelson

Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.

For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father's death.

The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel's small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.

At her new family's invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore---along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.

At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it---in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.


Begins 6/10
Ends 6/15 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author info: Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Medical Judgment by Richard L. Mabry, M.D. (Medical Suspense) [Review & Giveaway]

Get ready for Dr. Richard Mabry's newest heart-thumping medical suspense, Medical Judgement.

My thoughts: The mind-chilling scenario of being a widowed young professional and finding yourself the victim of various types of stalking, threats, and with harm seemingly awaiting your every turn strikes fear into the hearts of readers as they plunge into Medical Judgment by beloved author Richard L.Mabry, M.D.

Lovely Dr. Sarah Gordon has the protection of a law enforcer and an  attorney but she doesn't feel protected. She feels threatened and all are seeking to find the source of her horrors.

She refuses to leave her home which is the location of all these horrific events to seek a protected location at which to live until these threats on herself cease. She continues to go to work in the Emergency Room of the local hospital even though it puts her in danger to do so.

What a roller coaster of a read. Dr. Gordon resolute strength is to be admired but one wonders if such resolution will be her eventual downfall.

A super good read from Dr. Mabry. Can't wait for another!

About the book: Someone is after Dr. Sarah Gordon. They've stalked her and set a fire at her home. Trying to recover from the traumatic deaths of her husband and infant daughter is tough enough, but she has no idea what will come next. Her late husband's best friend and a recovering alcoholic detective are trying to solve the mystery before it's too late, but both appear to be vying for her affection as well. Sarah finds herself in constant fear as the process plays out.

As the threats on her life continue to escalate, so do the questions: Who is doing this? Why are they after her? And with her only help being unreliable suitors in competition with each other, whom can she really trust?


Begins June 5
Ends June 21 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
Author: Dr. Richard Mabry is a retired physician who writes "medical suspense with heart." His novels have won multiple awards: a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers' debut novel; finalists for the Carol Award, Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and Romantic Times' Reader's Choice Award; and both finalist and winner of the Selah Award. He and his wife live in Frisco, Texas.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Pondering D-Day, WWII, and family

Thinking yesterday and today about D-Day (or Normandy Invasion Day) I was pondering how my family was affected by WWII. I was just a small child when the war was rampant, but here are some things I was recalling from memories spoken of by my relatives and from pictures recollecting The War.....

My grandmother had 4 sons - 3 of these served actively during the war. Two served in Europe and one lost his life training other pilots. She would have been one of those praying mothers who hung a star or stars in her window.
  1. I remember seeing film footage of my Uncle Herbert's military funeral. Burial was in the really old cemetery in Wilmington - Oakdale - and in the Houston family plot. There was a 21 gun salute.
  2. I remember my mother telling me about the rationing of food and other items. She kept a ration stamp book in her keepsakes. 
  3. I remember seeing pictures (I was too young to actually remember, but I was there, too) of my 2 Uncles who came home for their brother's funeral.
  4. I remember the treasured pictures we have that my Dad took when the brother who died was home on his last visit before his death. Pictures of him with his mother (my grandmother). My he was handsome - like a movie star. Pictures of him with my older brother who had his own "soldier outfit" and who wore it in the picture. My own father was medically unfit to serve. He tried to enlist twice. 

And I pondered what it must have been like for my grandmother and grandfather to sit and wait while their sons served. And then to hear their youngest son had perished in a plane crash. How their hearts bled and broke.

And I thought how thankful I am for all the sacrifices people made that brought victory to the allies and defeat to the Germans. Sacrifices of stark living conditions. Sacrifices of youthful endeavors. Sacrifices of family gatherings. Sacrifices of health, limbs, sight. The supreme sacrifice of life. So many lives lost and so many lives given that I might grow up free. That my nation should remain free. That the awful bigotry and hatred that seeded the war should be snuffed out along with the feet, hands, heads, hearts, and society that made that terrible time possible.

Today I am thankful. Are you?

The Secret of Bald Rock (Book #1 Kare Kids Adventures series) by Charles Salter [Meet the author & Giveaway]

ISBN: 978-1478770848
ABOUT THE BOOK:  Years ago, Kelcie's father disappeared at sea. Now that she's ten, Kelcie wants some answers. With the help of her father's lifelong best friend, Mr. Bartleby, Kelcie crosses the island in search of clues to what may have happened the night her father disappeared which seem strangely linked with the legend of The Bald Rock Monster. From learning how lobstering works to understanding Mr. Bartleby's past, Kelcie pieces together the mystery and thinks she knows where she can find the ultimate answers: the forbidden area of the island, Bald Rock.

Interview with Charles A. Salter author of The Secret of Bald Rock Island (Kare Kids Adventures #1)

1. What inspired you to create this series? 

A: For the past few years I have become increasingly concerned about the trend in our society to infantilize young people and make them dependent on the ‘nanny state’ rather than independent and mature adults who can help lead our society into the future.I hope my series will help young people realize they do possess heroic qualities and can make a difference by standing for what they believe and seeking to help others.

2. What is your writing process like? Did you plot the entire story of The Secret of Bald Rock Island before you began writing or did you come up with it as you wrote? 

A: I know some people like to outline their entire novel before starting to write, but I like to begin by dreaming up imaginative new characters and putting them into an exciting new situation or crisis. They soon begin to take on a life of their own and seem almost real to me, and they’ ll tell me how they want to resolve the problem. Early on they will tell me what the ending is, but it is always an exciting adventure for us to discover together how they will get there. 

3. Who inspired the character of Kelcie? 

A: Kelcie is a composite of my two daughters. Out of the entire series so far, volume #1 is the only one set in the past—about one generation ago. At that time, my now-adult daughters were children and we often went to Maine (the location for this novel). We saw and experienced the kinds of places described in the book! 

4. What independent traits does Kelcie demonstrate that you would like young children to emulate?

A: Kelcie may be only ten years old, but she knows how to think for herself and decide how she can best help others. She is a true “ Kare Kid” who not only has a caring attitude towards family, friends, animals, and the environment, but she translates that concern into real action to accomplish her goals. In the surprise ending of the book—when she finally confronts the mysterious island creature face to face—her beliefs and principles about life and nature lead her to suggest an amazing solution to the adults on the scene.

5. What do you hope both your young readers and the parents of those readers take away from the books?

A: Family and friends in this series clearly cherish and care for each other. I would hope these stories would encourage both parents and young readers to do the same. I would hope that young readers would learn the importance of going beyond having a good attitude about others and translating that into real action to help when needed. And I hope parents will learn the wisdom of sometimes stepping back and letting kids work through their own solutions to life’ s problems and issues...yet also be available when those kids ask for help.

6. Independence is a huge theme in Kare Kids Adventures. To what extent did you or did you not experience independence as a child?

A: My parents were absolute models for fostering independence in me and my siblings...often to a degree which would be considered illegal these days! I had my first paying job when I was about age 5—babysitting the infant of neighbors who lived in the same apartment building where we did. My mother was in a nearby apartment in case a real problem developed, but I sat with this wonderful kid and read books and took care of him otherwise. Later that year I took sole care of my baby brother (about age three) when both my parents worked. I dressed and fed and entertained him when I was only 6 and my mother was at work for three hours each morning. A few years later, on non-school days I and my brother or friends would be on our own all day, playing in the woods or riding bikes or playing sports. No cell phones in those days, and we were on our own until meal times. By age 19, I went to England for my college junior-year-abroad and toured all of western Europe with just my friends. During that year I experienced the amazing adventure in Norway which lies at the heart of book #4—THE TRAVEL TWINS AND THE LOST SECRET OF THE VIKINGS.

7. How did your experience as a parent and grandparent influence The Secret of Bald Rock Island?

A: I have always tried to encourage my own children and grandchildren to become independent and make their own decisions about which sports, activities, and careers to choose. I taught them to stand up for what they believe. And this is exactly what Kelcie’ s mother and dear family friend, Mr. Bartleby, do for her in this book. As Kelcie comes to grips with the loss of her father years earlier, both adults encourage and help her to work through that process in a mature way.

8. Did you pull from your background in psychology when writing this series? If so, in what way?

A: As everyone knows, much of psychology focuses on mental illness and other pathological conditions. But part of the field focuses instead on fostering close and healthy relationships, particularly among parents and children. One area of thought and research in psychology which has always interested me is that about not simply telling kids what to do, but rather encouraging them to think through problems and issues so they can come up with their own insights and solutions. And that is exactly how the adults in this book handle Kelcie’s quest to solve the mysteries of Bald Rock Island. 

9. How do you think technology and the age of the helicopter parent have influenced independence in children today? 

A: Everything seems different these days compared to when my generation was growing up.Technology certainly has its advantages, but it can also isolate children from healthy and beneficial social relationships. If you’ve ever seen a bunch of kids sitting together, but with each one lost and alone in his/her own electronic device and virtual world, you can sense the downside of technology. Doing things by oneself is not the same as independence. True independence does not imply social isolation but rather the ability to think for oneself and play a leadership role in a social situation. Parents who want the best for their children will not become over-protective and smother their development by always being present and doing everything for them. Children need to mature by becoming self-reliant and capable of doing things on their own, but they can’ t accomplish that if a helicopter parent is always hovering around and making all the decisions.

10. The Secret of Bald Rock Island is the first of the Kare Kids Adventures Series. When will the next installment come out?

A: In book #2, CHARLOTTE AND THE MYSTERIOUS VANISHING PLACE, Kelcie is now grown up and her 9-year-old daughter is the star. Charlotte discovers a serious environmental danger in the woods and does everything she can to alert authorities and rescue two trapped puppies. This book is due out on July 1 of this year. In book #3, HOW THREE BROTHERS SAVED THE NAVY, Charlotte’s three cousins uncover a terrorist plot to destroy their navy father’ s ship. They show great courage and ingenuity in ferreting out the details and then thwarting the plot. That book is due out in early August. Charlotte’s twin brother and sister should be coming along some time in early fall in book #4, in THE TRAVEL TWINS AND THE LOST SECRET OF THE VIKINGS.This book’s plot unfolds on a scary (but real) train winding its way high in the beautiful mountains of Norway. Felons with mysterious motives have stolen the famed Leif Erikson Sunstone from their uncle’s Viking museum in Oslo, and the twins decide to get it back. In all of these books, the Kare Kids can’t rely on magic or super powers to solve their problems. They are realistic kids who live in the real world... BUT they know how to act independently and to translate caring from a mere attitude into genuine action to solve the problems they encounter.
Begins June 7 and
Ends June 24 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publicist. I was not compensated for this blog post.