Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Babel Conspiracy by Sylvia Bambola

ISBN13: 9780989970723
Heritage Publishing House
My thoughts: This is my first experience with the writings of Sylvia Bambola and I have mixed feelings about her book.

I like the strong Christian influence of Trish, the female protagonist. While she found herself in love with her employer who is a married man, she does not act nor allow him to act on their feelings.

The story involved a multi-leveled plot that unravels in America amidst the ending months of a Presidential election year. The country is amok in violence, rioting, police without support, and an active ISA (Islamic State of America) withing the borders. Add to that the suspicion of corruption in high places of the government and not knowing in whom you can place your trust, you have a formula for anarchy.

Another strong female character in the story, Audra, works with Trish in the design and implementation of building the first nuclear powered airplane. The author's extensive descriptions of the plane's construction and source of nuclear power made this reader feel more as though she were reading science fiction instead of Christian suspense and intrigue.

The author handled the repeatedly occurring occasions of adultery, heavy alcohol consumption, and moral depravity without overt graphic descriptions. The story was in my opinion, though, a bit heavy in this area for Christian fiction. There is violence involving threats, beatings, and knifings as well as defilement of a woman. This places the book squarely outside the realm of my recommendation for less mature readers.

Realizing that the World is corrupt and rife with evil and evil-doers and that the Christian is to be in the World but not of the world, I will cautiously recommend this as a book that will give a glimpse into what America might become in the very near future unless America turns to God.

About the book: The Babel Conspiracy is a tale of intrigue and love. Two women engineers struggle to develop the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft amid intensifying global terrorism and muddled personal lives. The project is fraught with sabotage and murder but who’s behind it all? When the Department of Homeland Security and the Mossad finally figure it out, the answer surprises everyone. Trisha Callahan has an abiding faith in God. Audra Shields sees herself as a modern Lady Chatterley. Before it’s all over, they will both question their lifestyle.

I received a copy from the BookCrash Reviewer's Program to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Charles Dickens: England's Most Captivating Storyteller (Historical Notebooks) by Catherine Wells-Cole [Giveaway "Miss Emily" USA/CANADA]

This review of Charles Dickens England's Most Captivating Storyteller is one of three books I shall be reviewing that are very well done for children that will take the kiddies a bit into the classical literary world. With these reviews will come a giveaway of one of the books as a courtesy of Candlewick Press. So we'll have a look at Charles Dickens, an anthology of classic poetry, and a delightful rendering of a fictional tale about Emily Dickerson. The books are......
  • Classic Poetry An Illustrated Collection by author/anthology editor: Michael Rosen & illustrated by Paul Howard
  • Miss Emily author by Burleigh Muten [This will be the giveaway prize book.]
  • Charles Dickens England's Most Captivating Storyteller by author: Catherine Wells-Cole

Charles Dickens: England's Most Captivating Storyteller (Historical Notebooks) by Catherine Wells-Cole

ISBN: 9780763655679
Hardcover $19.99
Templar Books/Candlewick Press
My thoughts: When my children were in school it was a real struggle to read biographies because they simply were not appealing. Required reading, definitely! Now children's book publishers have really begun to produce books appealing to various age children and draw them into the world of biographic reading. What a treasure! 

With the "Historic Notebooks" concept comes  innovative story telling that spaces the life of Charles Dickens about with bits and pieces of his life and his works. Using a lift-the-flap method there are interesting nuggets of information scattered throughout. The illustrations keep the reader engaged and enthralled. Reading biographies just got to be fun!

Charles Dickens' stories captured the society of his day and how downtrodden the people were. He captured the vast difference between the haves and the have-nots. The have-nots suffering just to live out each day. He wrote of this world and did it well because he, too, experienced it to some degree. Charles Dickens did receive an education which was not the opportunity of many of Victorian England. This is brought out in Charles Dickens: England's Most Captivating Storyteller

I found the presentation and the facts very interesting and they could easily incite more interest on the part of the young reader to further investigation and research. Not only is this an educationally engaging book, but it is also fun. There is even an envelope which can be opened and a note removed. The reader will learn that many of Dickens' characters are developed or modeled after his own family members. 
This shows a two-page spread and two flaps are lifted 
to show additional information. The Family tree flap on right side, top)
Children will enjoy picking this book up and reading and re-reading it for years. As they grow older, the facts tucked away will gain new and richer meaning to them. So this is a really good book to add to the home library. A must for school libraries.

About the book: See the world of Charles Dickens spring to life in his fascinating notebook. Excerpts from his personal letters, guides to his major works, and enthralling facts about his life and times--including Dickens's own amazing rags-to-riches story--are accompanied by fascinating new illustrations, drawings from the original books, and photographs from the period. This novelty-filled notebook immerses readers in Victorian life and allows them to meet not only Dickens himself, but also such enduring and iconic characters as Oliver Twist, Ebenezer Scrooge, and David Copperfield.

Author information: Catherine Wells-Cole has been a principal lecturer and the Director of Victorian Literature studies at Roehampton University for many years. She lives in Surrey, England.
Begins August 30
ENDS September 20 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are solely my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Starving Hearts by Janine Mendenhall (Christian Historical Fiction)

My thoughts: It has been said that you don't get an English teacher to edit a legal document. So true. But you also don't expect an English teacher to automatically be able to pen a story into an absorbing book worthy of publication.

Janine Mendenhall is an English teacher. So she knows subject, verb, tense, punctuation, and paragraph structure. But she has also been able to grasp the needed technique to bring to publication a compelling story of mystery and gentle romance that takes place at the height of the controversial slave trade and the families of wealth in England.

Written in a style reminiscent of the Bronte sisters’ Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and the works of Jane Austin, today's reader may struggle a bit with the customs or mores and conversation patterns.

The story has a ramped up evil protagonist and a gentle lady who has fallen in love with the "younger son" who is destined to be a pastor. The hero of the story is Peter, the younger son but all is not well with Peter as he is abducted and taken battered and beaten aboard a slave trading boat.

An interesting story well written and boding well for this new author from whom we can anticipate more in the future.

About the book: When a chance encounter leads to love, can Annette and Peter overcome the odds or will they be forever separated?

Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God's existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After a failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling.

Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette both endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter's faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man?

Read a preview here.

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts by Lisa Tawn Bergren, illustrated by David Hohn

ISBN13: 9781601428752
Hardcover $10.99

"The trick of having a thankful heart is thinking about the things that make us happy, rather than the things that don't."

My thoughts: It is always a sweet treat to pick up one of Lisa Tawn Bergren's books. You can always count on them for spot-on treatment of the subject. In God Gave Us Thankful Hearts she gently weaves a story of a child's (in this case a juvenile pup) learning how to recognize what he can be thankful for in his or her daily life.

The usual thankfulness for the things one likes is acknowledged and then mama and pup discover in their day's meanderings lots of things they don't like but can be thankful for anyway. Thankful that even though they don't like poison ivy and react badly to it, they have learned how to avoid it.

While not exactly stated, the real theme of the little book is "being thankful in all things" and learning to give thanks no matter what state you are in.

I can easily recommend this as a good addition to that young child's book shelf and be sure to get it in time for Autumn or Thanksgiving. Great for libraries, too.

About the book: Adventurous Lil Pup is bummed that hibernating season will soon be coming to the Great North Woods. Why should so many of his friends have to go in for the winter and leave Lil Pup without pals? Mama reminds her little wolf that not all animals hibernate, and how he can be grateful for the beautiful autumn season - for jumping in leaf piles, eating apple treats, and celebrating the wonders of fall with his forest friends.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book from Blogging For Books review program on behalf of the publisher. I was not compensated for my opinion or this review.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back To the Garden by Kevin DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark audio CD & DVD [Review & Giveaway-USA/CANADA]

The Biggest Story was originally a children’s book targeted for ages 5-12. Written by Kevin DeYoung for his own children and then illustrated by Don Clark it tells the redemptive plan of the Bible starting with creation and coming full circle to the end with a new creation. Now there is a CD audio book and an animated short film DVD narrated by the author, Mr. DeYoung. The illustrations of the book come alive in the animated DVD. Your children will now be able listen or listen and watch as they learn the redemptive plan of the Bible starting with creation and  coming full circle to end with a new creation. 

The Animated Short Film - The Biggest Story

My thoughts: When I reviewed The Biggest Story here on Chat With Vera, I was amazed at the art. Strong! Colorful! Unusual! Captivating! Now to see this same art in animated format while the author, Kevin DeYoung narrates the story is simply amazing.
The art illustrating this book is strikingly unusual for a children's book. The colors are bold, brilliant, and profuse. The art is abstract and yet reminiscent of iconic art from Russia of many years ago. (from Chat With Vera's review)
The snake slithers across the screen, the forms of trees, man and woman,  etc. appear, roll, glide as the words flow from the distinct and calming voice of DeYoung as he narrates. Surely this will enthrall and capture the attention of those who view it - young or old.

I encourage my readers to seek this out. Children need to know the evil that befell mankind and God's redemptive plan.

About the DVD: Featuring beautifully animated illustrations adapted from the book, The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film will captivate children and parents alike as they see how all the classic stories in the Bible connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people.

The Audio Book - The Biggest Story

My thoughts: The author as the narrator is absolutely perfect! His distinct enunciation and calming voice easily captures the attention of listener whether young or old. When I reviewed this book previously on Chat With Vera, I was encouraged to read DeYoung's interpretation of God's plan for the redemption of man and told for a young audience. Listening to it being read is even better!

I encourage my readers to get this. What a treat to listen as you take a trip in the family van, or to have for your children to listen to whenever they want a story.

About the CD: This audio book of The Biggest Story—written and narrated also by the best-selling author Kevin DeYoung—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, MI, husband to Trisha, and father to seven children.Posts will be due by Sept. 15.


Begins August 28
ENDS September 7 @ 12:01 ET
Open to USA & CANADA entry addresses only.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Neocell Joint Bursts and Move Matrix Supplements to keep you moving! [Review & Giveaway]

Getting older is not or sissies! Frankly, it hurts. Some hurt more than others. Some hurt sooner than others. But rarely does one not hurt in the joints as one grows older. "Old joints" can hit anytime. That means something makes the joints behave and feel aged - aching, hurting, un-movable.

Neocell has developed a complete line of Collagen products designed to provide supplements that support joint health and help you keep moving. Moving is a key factor to staying strong as one ages. As a member of a local work-out gym, I try to exercise three times a week. Some days it is simply too much to get a move on to actually go exercise. So I am looking for ways to help me keep moving so I can continue to exercise.

Neocell Joint Bursts

Cutting edge modern joint health supplement pictured on
family heirloom dish. Contrast in ages.
My thoughts: This product contains collagen and also tumeric. I had heard that turmeric was being touted as a seasoning that had health benefits - primarily joint health. And had wondered about trying to figure out a way to consume some to see if it would help me. Then along came Neocell with their newest product - Joint Bursts. These are little "chews" that are nicely flavored and a pleasure to take. I am currently using one per day. I find them easy to take and I am hoping to benefit from this soon.

The flavor of the Joint Burst chews is Tropical Tang and is very pleasant - not a chore at all to use. That's a plus.

Product information: NeoCell Join Bursts combine Collagen Type 2, Turmeric, and Hyaluronic Acid in a soft chew that is bursting with juicy tropical fruit flavor for targeted joint support. *
  • Collagen Type 2 is the main structural protein of joint cartilage and is what provides strength and cushioning in joints. 
  • Hyaluronic Acid is the primary component of synovial fluid which lubricates the joints. 
  • Turmeric is shown to promote healthy inflammatory response. * 
These three powerhouse ingredients work synergistically to support flexibility, mobility and comfort. Chew on this and take a comfortable step in the right direction. *

Neocell Move Matrix

Golden capsules give evidence of the tumeric.
My thoughts: This product contains collagen and also tumeric. As in the Joint Bursts, the turmeric holds the promise of health benefits for joint health. Combined with the top grade Collagen, the turmeric is compressed into capsules. These are large capsules and the directions say to take 5 a day. I have some difficulty with large capsules, so I am only using one per day. Combined with the Joint Bursts, perhaps this one capsule will provide some benefit from joint discomfort and help me to keep moving.

Another problem I have with some supplements is an after-taste or stomach problem. Whilst I can "taste" these as I take them, that is only momentary and there is absolutely no after-taste. A big plus.

Product information: Move Matrix provides scientifically advanced ingredients that work synergistically in the body to promote healthy joints. This premium formula supports joint flexibility and range of motion. Collagen Type 2 is the key structural protein of joint cartilage. This premium formula combines BioActive NeoCell Collagen™  Type 2, Turmeric, Hyaluronic Acid, and a sophisticated blend of joint targeted ingredients to support flexibility, lubrication, and healthy inflammatory response.*


Prize: 1 package each--Joint Burst & Move Matrix
Begins August 26
ENDS September 16 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary products from Neocell to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review. Prize is provided by Neocell and shipped directly to the winner.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Spread Some Joy! - Spreading Joy to the Joyless....

The Social Insiders have been challenged this summer to post weekly about a specific topic. This is week #6 and the Challenge is to "Spread Some Joy!" 

I got to thinking about ways to spread joy around and thought, "Well, that is easily done." And then I began thinking that spreading joy that is easy is probably spreading joy to those whose lives are already pretty much joy-filled. But spreading joy to the un-joyful might pose more of a challenge and be a bit harder to do. It might take folks out of their comfort zone or create a feeling of un-joyfulness in them as they approach the un-joyful, joyless individual.

The elderly in care facilities who have no family to care about them..... Even though some of these facilities may look nice, they can and often are home for elderly who have no funds to purchase even soap or lotions. They need a visit, a smile, a gentle caring touch. They need someone to bring some little hygienic items and perhaps a little treat or so. Try - if your pocket book will allow - to buy nice items. Good quality lotions, bar soaps, hand soaps. A fresh washcloth and towel.

The homeless..... This is an area that you'll have to exercise care about safety issues. But these souls need joy in their lives. Gather someone with you to reach out and touch their lives with joy. As summer winds down they still need bottles of water to stay hydrated. They still need a piece of fruit. They need a bite to eat. And as the colder months approach and their biggest challenge comes with the cold, reach out to homeless shelters with support - work a soup kitchen, donate food or funds to provide food for these folks. If you have medical skills, serve. Again, hygienic items are needed. Check the shelters for what you can provide. Organize your church groups or other service organizations to help.

And the abused women and children...... Sometimes this is a real challenge as knowing how, where, and when to help is real tricky. I discovered last winter that in our small town, the Social Services Department collects Teddy Bears year round to be able to give a loving bear to a child when his or her life is torn apart. Perhaps Social Services can point you to a group with which you can work.

Spread Some Joy! And don't forget to spread some Joy to the Joyless!

And remember, they need some joy year 'round - not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Janine Mendenhall’s ‘Starving Hearts’ Prize Pack - Lots of stuff + a copy of "Starving Hearts"

Will Annette's search for love and acceptance replace the loss and hurt in her heart? Find out in Janine Mendenhall's book one, Starving Hearts, of the Triangular Trade Trilogy. Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

Join in the search for love and acceptance with Janine and Starving Hearts by entering to win the Delightful Heart Gift Pack Giveaway.

starving hearts - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
starving hearts - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on September 12. The winner will be announced September 13 on Janine's blog.

starving hearts - enterbanner

Monday, August 22, 2016

Happy Birthday to You! (music button board book) by Michelle Medlock Adams & illustrated by Sandra Rodriguez [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780824919825
Board book $12.99

My thoughts: This little book is sized just right for little hands and it is one of those treasured "Press the button and sing along" books that the kiddies love. Worthy Kids/Ideals has several of these and they are always a hit with the kiddies. Played repeatedly and carried about through the day they won't be a big irritant because the music is soft but loud enough for most little ears.

As the child has a celebration whether large or small on his or her birthday, this book will bring added joy with it's musical component and also because it can be personalized. It can be used in a family of several small children by bringing it out for the celebration day and using the "birthday child's" picture. Fun! And doing this will teach sharing.

Auntie or Grandmommie will love to get this as a little birthday treasure. This book is about a child's birthday and there is a party with friends over, games, presents, and cake. If a child is only having a quiet birthday at home with family, this book might not be appropriate. It is charming and fun and ends with "And when your birthday's almost through, I'll say a prayer of thanks for you. You are a special birthday star, and I'm so proud of who you are!' This is a small token to Christianity with it's being published by a Christian publishing house.

Cute illustrations with bright colors enhance and help to engage the child. A fun book that I can recommend.

About the book: Though all children may not struggle with who they are, every child has a birthday. Happy Birthday to You! celebrates the excitement children feel on their special day. The book has a sound button that plays the birthday song, and a photo pocket so it can be personalized for a birthday boy or girl.
GIVEAWAY - 1 Winner
1 copy of God Made You Just Right & 
1 copy of Happy Birthday To You
Begins August 9
Ends August 29 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
Giveaway provided by Worthy Kids / Ideals Publishing
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Worth Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Summer Food Tips - Just keep it cool!

It's hot..... an understatement? Hardly! They are saying (you can Google it online) that July 2016 was the World's hottest July on record.

But what are you gonna do? You have to eat. Eating usually requires meat, veggies, fruits, grains and many of these require cooking. Cooking gets hot.

So again, what are you gonna do????

We lived many years without air conditioning in the South - in North Carolina. And in North Carolina the summers get pretty hot and that heat takes the form of high temperatures and high humidity levels. If you've never lived where the humidity is high, you don't have a clue what I'm speaking about. But if you have! Well. 'nough said! It literally drains the life out of you. No you don't get used to it, either. But you do find ways to endure or cope.

The clue is produce as much food using as little heat inside the house as possible.

Image borrowed from
So long cooking soups are usually a no-no. I do like to make chicken salad because you can boil a chicken for awhile, cool it, debone and use. Out of one chicken you get lots of chicken salad that goes a long way. Serve this up with vegetable salads (cold, of course). Or you can purchase one of those lovely rotisserie chickens from the grocery store, slice it for dinner, then pick the bones and make a chicken salad for the next meal - cold.

But think ahead when you do actually cook up something in the kitchen. During the summer, cook large batches that need long cooking.This way you are cooking ahead. Rewarm quickly in microwave. The pre-cooked meals are convenient and one-cooking time uses the heat for several meals. During hot weather, the one-cooking time method heats up your kitchen only once saving on your AC and also saving on the fuel to cook. Microwaves are great for no-heat cooking.

Image borrowed from
Got lots of summer tomatoes, make a cold tomato salad. Finely chop (not mince) tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion. You can add corn, or perhaps your favorite canned (rinsed & drained) beans. Mix. You can make your own dressing or marinade according to your own preference. You can add herbs according to your likes. Make a fairly good size dish because this keeps several days in the 'fridge. It is great cold.

Of course, grilling out-of-doors is always a great way to get those meats cooked. While you're at it, cook extra that you can serve another day as a cold-cut. Or you can slice the chilled meat into a tossed salad. Another winner!

Sandwiches are super good in hot weather. Be inspired. Don't just serve ham and cheese. Try to be innovative. And make the sandwiches ahead and wrap them in plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate. Eating a thoroughly chilled sandwich with a vegetable salad is good at lunch or dinner.

Save the hot roast beef and heavy veggies for winter. You'll need the extra heat, fat, and carbs to maintain body heat during the cold months. But during the summer? Well, keep it cool!

It's Just So by Brenda Faatz, Peter Trimarco [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780997085105)
My thoughts: It's Just So is a delightfully cute and entertaining book that takes Lizzy from waking up on the morning of her first day at school through the day until bedtime that evening. She has a full day and experiences many emotions.

I love the way she begins by choosing her own clothes. The illustrations show her joy filled and spontaneous. Then at school she begins to go through the day in different classes until lunch time when she finds herself all alone! But not for long.....

The book is filled with excitement, joy, exuberance. Spontaneity, imaginative words, and futuristic imagery into what Lizzy's future in school might hold (because we all know she can't experience all this on a first day or in a first year).

It is fun!

While a first-day-of-school student in the age bracket of 4 to 8 won't study science or the atoms or be able to pronounce (or even read) the big words, the imaginary words, in It's Just So, their minds will soar as Mom or Dad, teacher or librarian reads this delight aloud to them.

I think this is a fun book and can easily recommend it for home, schools, and libraries.

About the book: It is Lizzy's first day in a brand new school! At first things feel just so scary and just so hard, but in the end, they're just so .... not what she thought they would be! From waking up early and boarding the bus for the very first time to meeting new friends and painting outside the lines, it's a day of discovery and perspective for a little girl named Lizzy."
Begins August 17
ENDS September 7 @ 12:02 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The authors have loads of fun at meet 'n greets.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated. Winner's copy will be sent directly to them by authors.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Mindful Soap Co. brings essential oils to the home for creating balanced family members through use of soaps, etc. [Review & Giveaway]

A word from the creator of Mindful Soap Company. . .

As a mom with a child diagnosed with autism, I had no idea that certain essential oils could be used in conjunction with my son's therapy to further promote his progress. Essential oils have been used for centuries to promote emotional and physical well-being. Taking this knowledge, and adding it to a new-found love for soap making, the Mindful Soap Company was born. Diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, my son began going to therapy sessions at the Brain Balance Center. As a part of his therapy sessions, his coach had him smell specific essential oils to help stimulate certain parts of the brain.

Phthalates: possible carcinogens and endocrine
disruptors linked to reproductive development problems
Having a background in Biology, this was all very interesting to me. I researched essential oils a little further and discovered that many oils have health benefits and have been used in different ways down through the centuries.

After a lot of trial and error, I learned how to make soap from scratch using the traditional cold-process method. The next thing I knew, the Brain Balance Center wanted to buy some and give it to their clients. Friends and family loved it wanted to buy it, too! This was the beginning of The Mindful Soap Company.

Essential oils have been shown to contribute to overall emotional balance and well-being and are also far less irritating to sensitive skin.

Vera's thoughts: When I saw the Mindful Soap Co. online I was fascinated by the prospect of a "purpose" behind using essential oils in soaps, bath salts, and as destressors. I've understood for awhile that it is really better to use natural products and part of that is incorporating essential oils for fragrance instead of artificial fragrances. I had no idea that there was benefit for the overall emotional  and yes, even productive balance and well-being of the individual to be had simply by using these natural products.

After doing some reading on the subject and trying several "brands" of natural products I have found that I do enjoy these products. I do actually like them. I truly like the idea that the ingredients are natural and not chemicals whose names I can not spell nor pronounce let alone have no clue what they really are.

I have three of the Mindful Soap Co. products to try out for myself. They are different in that they have a purpose other than being simple, nice bath or "spa" products.
Anti-Aging Bath Salts, Spearmint Leaf 100% Natural Soap, & "Focus" Essential Oil Blend

This Anti-Aging Bath Salt has an unusual fragrance and it is not "girly" so the men in your home will likely not object to having a nice soak in it as well. The base is epsom salts also known as magnesium sulfate. You can find it very inexpensive at a multitude of stores. Epsom salts are good in your bath for aches and soreness.
Ingredients include black walnut hull powder, essential oils of patchouli, cedarwood, and orange. It should help tightens and tones sagging skin, reducing the visibility of wrinkles; helps heal wounds, fade scars and stretch marks; and can calm skin problems due to eczema, psoriasis, acne, and other forms of dermatitis.
I found the fragrance of these oils very different. My bath was very relaxing and soothing. My skin felt wonderful after this nice soak. The bath water doesn't seem oily as with some bath salts that have oils in them. This is very nice.

Ever rub-squeeze mint leaves between your fingers
and then smell all the goodness? Just imagine how
wonderfully fragrant this soap is. Yummy!
The Spearmint Leaf 100% Natural Handcrafted Soap has a wonderfully refreshing fragrance that brightens my sensory experience even while it just sits on the counter awaiting my using it. So fresh smelling.
Soaps are made with plant-based oils and are packed with nature's vitamins, minerals, and all the good stuff. What you won't find are artificial colors, fragrances or chemicals...ever! You will love the strong scents which come from essential oils and the rich, foamy, bubbly lather! Spearmint Leaf: with essential oils of: Spearmint (helps respiratory system and nervous system and used to treat headaches, nausea, fatigue, and depression), Eucalyptus (supports respiratory system and soothes sore muscles). Ingredients: olive oil, distilled water, coconut oil, sustainable palm oil, lye, castor oil, essential oil blend, nettle leaf powder.
This is the "good stuff" - truly. The fragrance is so very refreshing. I loved bathing with it. The soap is so smooth and silky feeling when I lather with it. I just love it.

The Essential Oil Blend "Focus" Roll On is a tiny bottle of powerful lusciousness. The mild, woodsy scent of "Focus" comes primarily from the cedarwood essential oil. I found this refreshing and it's scent takes me back many years and to memories of my mother's cedar chest that sat at the foot of her bed. It was a gift from my Dad to Mom soon after they married and was beautifully carved on top and front. When opened, the fragrance of the cedarwood would waft toward me. I loved it. So first of all, "Focus" takes me on a focused memory trip. Fun!

I have used the Focus Essential Oil Blend a few times and have not sensed an enhancement of my mental focus abilities. I can see no harm in using it and will continue to use it - especially when the need to focus is more necessary. I plan to share this with a family member, too, to see if it enhances their ability to focus.
This 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil blend can be used to help promote concentration and keep emotionally grounded. The essential oils are blended with Jojoba oil, which mimics the natural oils produced by the body. This blend contains the following:
  • Vetiver: known for its calming, grounding effect on emotions
  • Lavender: known for its ability to calm the mind, ease anxiety, and help one stay engaged.
  • Cedarwood: known for its grounding, calming effect on the nervous system
  • Lemon: known to promote mental focus and clarity. May help clear the mind of distractions
Note from Mindful Soap: The vetiver, specifically is widely used in the autism and ADHD community because it helps promote concentration, focus, and emotional grounding. The other oils help calm as well. 
In general, I believe that while the owner of Mindful Soap Co. created her products primarily to aid the autistic individual, any person can benefit from using natural products infused with these wonderful oils. The owner's science background lends credence to her ability to successfully evaluate ingredients and utilize them in the creation of these products that can potentially be very beneficial.

Shop a 20% discount
Aug.15 - Sept. 6
Coupon Code "CHATWITHVERA" & get 
20% off your entire 1st order

Your choice: one product of either, Essential Oil Roll Bottle, Bath Salts, or Bar of Soap
Prize to be in your choice of scent/fragrance
Begins August 15
ENDS September 6 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary products to facilitate this review. Opinions are solely my own. I was not compensated. Prize is provided by Mindful Soap and is shipped directly to the winner.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Witnesses By Robert Whitlow Published by Thomas Nelson

About the book: Young lawyer Parker House is on the rise—until his grandfather’s mysterious past puts both of their lives in danger.

Parker House’s secret inheritance is either his greatest blessing . . . or his deadliest curse. The fresh-faced North Carolina attorney shares his German grandfather’s uncanny ability to see future events in his mind’s eye—a gift that has haunted 82-year-old Frank House through decades of trying to erase a murderous wartime past.

While Parker navigates the intrigue and politics of small-town courtroom law, Frank is forced to face his darkest regrets. Then, a big career break for Parker collides with a new love he longs to nurture and the nightmares his grandfather can no longer escape. Sudden peril threatens to shatter not only Parker’s legal prospects but also his life and the lives of those dearest to him.

Two witnesses, two paths, an uncertain future.

My thoughts: Robert Whitlow takes the reader to the stunningly beautiful North Carolina coastal town of New Bern. Rivers flow into the mighty Atlantic Ocean creating a sparkling gem of water and sky where fishing and boating in skiffs and yachts are par for the course. The story opens with newly graduated attorney, Parker House, set up in a New Bern practice and about to participate in a jury selection. It quickly ratcheted into the subtle mind quirkiness that is The Witnesses as Parker seems to have an uncanny sense of what to do. Just what makes Parker tick?

The story runs with two time lines - Germany during World War II and contemporary New Bern, NC. Worlds apart. Lifetimes apart. Yet, fully meshing one with the other.

While young Parker is discovering his own life, meeting clients and getting started as a legal counsel, he meets a young photographer who captures his heart. Parker's Opa (grandfather) is a sweetheart of an old man as is his long time friend and fishing buddy, Lenny.

I enjoyed the visits in the courtroom and the legalise planning and maneuvering. I enjoyed boating with the story's folks with the wind whipping through my hair just as it did Layla's. You see, I grew up in the North Carolina coastal city of Wilmington and know what these characters saw, felt, and loved. In short, I enjoyed The Witnesses and encourage those who enjoy Christian legal thrillers bathed in the beauty of a sea coast town to get a copy and get reading.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from BookLook Bloggers Program to facilitate this review of my own opinions. I was not compensated for this review.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Feathers for Peacock by Jacqueline Jules and Illustrated by Helen Cann [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN13: 9781937786533
Many peoples and cultures have legends about birds and how they got their wings, or their chirp, or their feathers. It is interesting to read or hear these stories that have been passed down from generation to generation throughout the centuries.

In Feathers for Peacock we have an original story by a contemporary author, Jacqueline Jules, and beautifully illustrated by Helen Cann. It is not a folk-tale but it reads like one. Ms. Jules has created her own story. In the back of the book she also shares some fun facts about peacocks. Now about the book....

The story opens back when all the birds had no feathers and they were all sad. And then the moon helped and they all got beautiful feathers...... except...... Peacock. And he was sad.

When Moon saw he was so sad and the other birds as well, they all joined in sharing feathers of their own (not Moon, of course) so Peacock could have feathers.

But they were a messy mess of feathers. Then Moon said he'd fix it.

Peacock got his feathers and was proud and happy. The others had been kind and had shared. The legend type of story is gentle and sweet and will teach valuable lessons to little ones with whom the book is shared. This lovely book will be a good addition to school and home libraries.


Begins August 11
ENDS September 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Wisdom Tales to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It's Summer Still! Relax with a good book!

Don't let the start of school here in August fool you. It. Is. Still. Summer.! So run to the store. Run to the library. Grab from your secret "stash." Just get a book, a good book and read. It is time to be a bit lazy and still stimulate that wrinkled mass of intelligence that sits  inside your skull. Read a good book.

What is your favorite? Romance? Suspense? Mystery? (I have a hard time telling the difference between mystery and suspense.) Whodunit? Detective? Fantasy? Science fiction?

Or perhaps you prefer the non-fiction genre - biography, autobiography, history, research, animals, medical?

What really grabs your interest and keeps you turning the pages?

Here on Chat With Vera I focus on lots of books and you'll find that they are all very clean reads. Christian fiction, Christian historical fiction, contemporary fiction, non-fiction, children's picture books, children's board books, children's non-fiction books.
Picture credit:
So if you're looking for something and the mass of books lining the library or book store shelves have you scratching your head in confusion as you try to make a choice, take a peek around here and see if there is something that appeals to you. Just......

Relax with a good book!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

AYL TC80 4-in-1 LED Flashlight CREE - Tactical Emergency Nightlight with Telescoping Body and Magnetized Base - Water Resistant Spotlight for Work, Auto, Camping, Garage, Emergency - Battery Powered


This is an incredibly useful flashlight. It is mid-sized and very heavy-weight. The aircraft-grade anodized aluminum makes this a high quality instrument that can be used not only for the light emitting purposes, but as a defense if you're caught in a bad situation. I realize the tool is not promoted or sold for defense purposes, but it certainly will qualify as such. That is a real plus for the ladies that use it.

The flashlight on the end is an LED bulb and the light is variable in that you can adjust it to emit a pinpoint area to be lit or you can expand the light in a wide-angle cone of light.

Then if you need a "lamp" type light to illuminate an area, you can expand the telescoping body to reveal a bright white light for illumination or switch it to a flashing red emergency light. (see my little video)

The strong magnet on the end will come in handy to stick the light on metal surfaces so you don't have to hold it yourself. A real plus when you're trying to fix something.

This is a super nice flashlight and just might make it on my Christmas gift shopping list this year. It would be great if you're in areas prone to loss of electrical power, for camping, and for handymen or handy-ladies everywhere. As I said earlier, great as a bit of defense material, too. Find it - click here

Product information (from Amazon)
VERSATILE 4-in-1 TELESCOPING BODY - Lightweight and compact, this flashlight AYL TC80 offers an extendable/retractable body for precision lighting coverage.
Expanded to show light and it is held on front of clothes
dryer by strong magnet in the end of the flashlight.
SUPERIOR LOW LIGHT VISION - Ultra-bright front LED bulbs provide 300+ feet of direct illumination and a 180-degree COB cone when extended.
HANDS-FREE MANUVERABILITY - A powerful magnetic base lets you attach your pocket flashlight to any metal surface giving you full vision in tight spots

OUTDOOR DURABILITY - This high power LED flashlight is made with aircraft-grade anodized aluminum that's both water and shock resistant.

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

GOD MADE YOU JUST RIGHT by Jill Roman Lord [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN13: 9780824919764
Board Book - $7.99
My thoughts: Very young children need books and those books should be sturdy and they should have a decidedly artistic appeal and valuable message or story. In Jill Roman Lord's charming rhyme extolling the message to the young boy or girl that there is a purpose in how God has designed them (or made them) and that the design is just right, the criteria for a child's book is met.

Sized just right for youngster's little hands and with enough pages to give more opportunity for enjoyment than some typical board books.

The sweet, colorful, and charmingly playful illustrations by Amy Wummer will engage the child and encourage repeated readings. Probably so many readings that the child will end up memorizing the poem. And at the end of the book......

a verse.....

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
In a nutshell, the book tells ....little ones that God created each of us in just the right way."  A charming book that I recommend you acquire and place in the hands of some sweet young child.

About the book: Here is a message that every parent will want to share with his or her child: "You're brilliantly created and there's no one else like you!" With easy-to-understand descriptions and simple, rhyming text, Jill Roman Lord shares the message that God created each of us in just the right way in a manner that even the youngest child will understand. Bright and engaging illustrations from Amy Wummer pair perfectly with the text and enhance the appeal of the book.
GIVEAWAY - 1 Winner
1 copy of God Made You Just Right
1 copy of Happy Birthday To You
Begins August 9
Ends August 29 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
Giveaway provided by Worthy Kids / Ideals Publishing
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Watch for Chat With Vera's review of Happy Birthday To You very soon!
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Worth Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Deadly Encounter by DiAnn Mills

About the book: Airport Ranger volunteer Stacy Broussard expected a peaceful Saturday morning ride around the perimeter of Houston's airport. What she encounters instead is a brutal homicide and a baffling mystery. Next to the body is an injured dog, the dead man's motorcycle, and a drone armed with a laser capable of taking down a 747. Though FBI Special Agent Alex LeBlanc sees a clear-cut case of terrorism, his past has taught him to be suspicious of everyone, even witnesses. Even bleeding-heart veterinarians like Stacy. But when her gruesome discovery is only the first in a string of incidences that throw her life into a tailspin, Alex begins to wonder if Stacy was targeted. As a health emergency endangers Stacy's community, and the task force pulls in leads from all directions, Alex and Stacy must work together to prevent another deadly encounter.

My thoughts: What begins as a homicide investigation soon begin to twist and turn in a convoluted journey far from the singularity of the initial problem.

A lady veterinarian, an FBI agent, a precocious 12 year old brightly intelligent abused boy, and a yellow lab.

Stacy, a caring veterinarian, has taken in the young boy and is seeking to become his real mother. He is super bright and will graduate high school at age 14 with college credits. Stacy genuinely cares for the animals she has in her clinic; and it really bothers her when this sweet, docile yellow lab has a bad cut on the foot. She takes it back to her clinic to be cared for.

Key to the story and the investigation is the neighborhood (low income, run down), a problem with the area water, an outbreak of "flu," and the yellow lab.

As I read the story it seemed as though the incidents and situations go from bad to worse to even worse. Who or what is the cause of the problems? Is it an individual? Is it terrorism? DiAnn Mills has provided a whodunit that will keep the most avid mystery reader engaged until the end.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a copy by Tyndale Blog Network to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

If You Were Me and Lived in ... Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3) by Carole P.Roman & illustrated by Sarah Wright [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN13: 9781523234073
My thoughts: This new series of children's books, An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time, is very special. They are geared elementary students and perhaps on into the early middle school grades. Colonial America incorporates factual information throughout the story while immersing the reader as the "You" in the story.

Life in England prior to the setting of America was rife with religious persecution. While the country was protestant at that time, the accepted faith of the country was Church of England and persecution of other protestants was a fact of life. The period of English exploration and discovery had led to the desire to colonize the New World. This gave opportunity to the protestants not of the Church of England to resettle in another country with opportunities to worship as they chose. Some had already relocated to Holland and set sail from there.

As Ms. Roman tells the story of these developments, the reader can place himself right at the center. The reader will go through what a day in the life of a child during this period was like - primarily the activities of simple survival.

The illustrations have a cartoonish style and yet show a darkness that is somewhat representative of the times. Crossing the ocean on those tiny ships would have been a dark experience as would trying to survive that first year in the New World after arriving in the dead of a harsh winter. Focusing primarily on the initial settlement in New England at Plymouth, the book recounts this period giving more detail than most "first Thanksgiving" stories provide.

The living conditions and life they encountered in this raw land is shown in contrast to what they left behind in the Old World. They searched the area after landing and found an abandoned Indian village and settled there. The cold that winter and harshness of the land left their numbers decimated.

It was good to also focus on the available food upon the initial year in the New World and the building of primitive shelter.  As in Roman's previous books, the "you" in the book talks about boys' and girls' clothing. The story included information about contact with the Indians and the valuable survival techniques they provided the colonists.

I especially like the sections in the back of the book. There is a section with pictures and short biographies of famous and important people during the period. And lastly, the wonderful glossary.

This is an excellent resource for the home or classroom library. More sturdily bound editions would be wonderful in children's school libraries and the children's section of public libraries.

About the book: Experience  Colonial America through the eyes of a student like yourself. Similar to her award-winning non-fiction cultural series that introduces customs and cultures to elementary students, this ground-breaking series takes the theme to another level describing life in different civilizations throughout world history for older students. Occupations, food, clothing, and recreation as well as important people pepper the book, opening a gateway for discussions and lessons. Study Sheets for American Colonies
1 grand winner = both books
5 win Elizabethan England
5 win Colonial America
Begins August 5
Ends August 30 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author to facilitate this review of my own opinions. I was not compensated nor obligated to give a positive review.

Friday, August 5, 2016

If You Were Me and Lived in... Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3) by Carole P. Roman & illustrated by Paula Tabor [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN13: 9781523229369
My thoughts: This new series of children's books, An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time, is very special. They are geared elementary students and perhaps on into the early middle school grades. Former teacher Carole P. Roman is in her element when she introduces children to cultures and to various periods of history. This series incorporates wonderful factual information throughout the story while immersing the reader as the "You" in the story.

So much happened during in Elizabethan England and, author Carole P. Roman writes interestingly of much of those years in the late 1500s to early 1600s. This was an important literary period. Drama and stage productions became important and William Shakespeare wrote his many important works. This was also an important period of discovery and establishment of the wealthy merchant class.

As Ms. Roman tells the story of these developments, the reader can place himself right at the center. He or she will learn that the education was vastly different for boys and girls. Only one child in a lower class was educated and only a boy. Education for girls was solely homemaking skills. The reader will go through what a day in the life of a child during this period was like. Life for a child in Elizabethan England was filled with activity.

The illustrations show vast differences in wealthy and commoners' clothing. Living conditions were vastly different as well. The dark, cobbled, and dirty streets of the city are clearly pointed out. This provides a good opportunity for children to be enlightened as to our current living conditions contrasting with those of Elizabethan England and why the improvements we have are so very important.

I especially like the emphasis on food and food preparation during this period. Contrasting the lower class and wealthy or upper class's style of eating and foods available to them is clearly an important lesson for children of today to learn.

Queen Elizabeth I was a protestant yet she was somewhat tolerant of those of Catholic faith. During this period, usually a country was one faith or the other and intolerant of differing faiths.

I especially like the sections in the back of the book. There is a really nice section with pictures and short biographies of famous and important people during the period. And lastly, the wonderful glossary.

This is an excellent resource for the home or classroom library. More sturdily bound editions would be wonderful in children's school libraries and the children's section of public libraries. While ideal for the elementary age child, entire families can benefit in reading this story about Elizabethan England.

About the book: Travel through time to visit the most interesting civilizations throughout history in the first four books of her new series. Learn what kind of food you might eat in Elizabethan England, the complicated clothes you might wear, what might influence your parents to choose your name, and what children did for fun. If You Were Me and Lived in...does for history what her other award-winning series did for culture. So get on-board this time-travel machine and discover the world through the eyes of a young person just like you.  Study sheets for Elizabethan England
1 grand winner = both books
5 win Elizabethan England
5 win Colonial America
Begins August 5
Ends August 30 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author to facilitate this review of my own opinions. I was not compensated nor obligated to give a positive review.