Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Arbordale publishes delightful educational books for children - 3-book review & giveaway

I continue to be amazed at the publications from Arbordale Publishing and the fun, educational material presented so well. Young readers can enjoy a bit of a story right along with a good dose of important information designed to stretch their intellectual abilities and develop their critical thinking skills.

Written and illustrated by skilled professionals who write and draw in the fields about which they themselves are proficient and qualified, the stories are engaging and sometimes just downright funny. Sometimes the author and illustrator (either a photographer or an artist that draws and paints) presents basic facts and tells them in an interesting manner. Sometimes, they weave a tale that is fanciful and fun but still packed with facts about the particular subject the book is designed to impart to the young reader.

Other great opportunities presented by Arbordale in relation to their books is the online material for each of the titles expanding further the information already in the print versions. There is a For Creative Minds on the Arbordale website section that provides another great option in the cross curricular teaching activity guide. Also, read aloud versions in the samples of enhanced book (check this preview - turn on your sound) links with highlighted words and speed controlled read aloud, Quiz Math Problems, Reading Comprehension Quiz, and teaching activities. Many of their publications are in English and Spanish.

Today, I am reviewing three titles from Arbordale and the publisher is graciously providing a copy of each book to one of Chat With Vera's readers to enjoy as well. Enter the contest by using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Saving Kate's Flowers by Cindy Sommer & illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein

My thoughts: This book is beautifully illustrated with cute, lovable bunnies who are gardening. Kate (little girl bunny) and her mommy are getting the garden ready for winter as summer's flowers are fading. Kate wants to save some of the flowers so mommy shows her how to save various types. 

This book is absolutely adorable. Presented just as though a "knowing" mommy talks to her little one at home. After all, home is most often the first learning/teaching stage and opportunity for a little one to discover the world about them and to satisfy their curiosity.

Horticultural lessons are gently taught as well as coping with sensitivities some have to having flowers inside the home.

About the book: Fall is here and Kate is determined to save her flowers from the winter cold. Mom shows her how to scoop the flowers out of the ground, transplant them into pots, and give them water. Kate pots a couple flowers . . . and then some more…and a few more. With Mom distracted on the phone, Kate has filled the house with flowers, but Dad’s sneezes mean the flowers have to go! Kate realizes she needs to find a new place for her flowers to spend the winter, but where?

Tuktuk Tundra Tale by Robin Currie & illustrated by Phyllis Saroff

About the book: As the sun begins to set, arctic animals scurry to prepare for the dark, cold winter. Tuktuk the collared lemming is almost ready for the long winter night—all he needs is warm fur to line his nest. When one furry kamik (boot) slips off an Inuit driver’s sled, Tuktuk is in luck! But as he drags it home, Putak the polar bear, Aput the arctic fox, and Masak the caribou eye this little lemming’s prize and want it for their own. Tuktuk thinks fast, but can he outwit the other animals and convince them that one furry kamik is no good for anyone bigger than a lemming?

My thoughts: This is a lovely book about some Arctic animals and how they survive. It is about how their winter coat changes to white which camouflages them from predators. It is also about how they build their homes and line them for warmth.

Beautifully illustrated in icy blues that entice the mind to feel the cold of snow and ice that the Arctic is made of and cute, charming critters both tiny and large the reader is enticed to learn multiple lessons about the Arctic. The seasons, life cycle in the cold, and vocabulary. Tuktuk's story is warm hearted and will appeal to all readers as the author has given him a personality and instinct for survival against the odds.

Magnetic Magic by Tetry Catasus Jennings & illustrated by Andrea Gabriel

About the book: Dena loves using magnets to perform magic tricks for the kids at the pool. When Enrique arrives in town, he doesn’t like that Dena is fooling the others. He gives her a century-old treasure map and Dena uses her compass and tools to plot the location of the treasure. To her surprise, the treasure is not where it should be! What could cause her compass to lead her off course? When she discovers the answer, will Dena keep fooling the other kids with magic tricks or will she help them learn about magnetism and the earth’s shifting magnetic poles?

My thoughts: A little venture into the physical sciences as this little girl wows her friends with antics purported to be magical but which are simply magnetic properties. She enjoys showing them her tricks but in actuality she is fooling them. An older boy comes along and challenges her for fooling the little kids. She doesn't see how fooling them is harmful, so he teaches her a lesson. But his lesson is two-fold.

The illustrator shows a population of multicultural children enjoying a day at the pool, learning about magnetism, and then eating ice cream together.

The book provides a lot of information about magnets and magnetic force including the Earth's magnetic field. This could really provide great opportunities for further exploration and experimentation with magnets.
GIVEAWAY ~ 3 books, 1 winner
(1) Saving Kate's Flowers
(2) Tuktuk Tundra Tale
(3) Magnetic Magic
Begins March 29
Ends April 18 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA Addresses Only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Arbordale Publishing to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Elusive Miss Ellison (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace) By Carolyn Miller

ISBN: 978-0825444500
$14.99 | Paperback
Kregel Publications
My thoughts: Delectably sweet and genteel and a highly recommended read for teens and adults of any age. The author takes the reader back to a gentler, nobler time and shows the differences between the haves and have nots and how one sweet pastor's daughter seeks to help the have nots.

The story is infused with a budding romance between the Earl and the pastor's daughter although their society's mores coupled with Miss Ellison's strong minded will and contempt for the arrogance she perceives in the Earl (Nicholas) seems to doom it from ever blossoming.

A serious illness coupled with Miss Ellison falling ill and collapsing along the path home during a raging winter storm brings the two together although it still looks as though a relationship is doomed.

I am looking forward to reading more from the author, Carolyn Miller as she carries us further into the lives of those who lived during this period of history.

About the book: "Handsome appearance counts for naught unless matched by good character and actions." That's the firm opinion of not-so-meek minister's daughter Lavinia Ellison. So even though all the other villagers of St. Hampton Heath are swooning over the newly returned seventh Earl of Hawkesbury, she is not impressed. If a man won't take his responsibilities seriously and help those who are supposed to be able to depend on him, he deserves no respect from her. In Lavinia's pretty, gray eyes, Nicholas Stamford is just as arrogant and reckless as his brother--who stole the most important person in Livvie's world. Nicholas is weighed down by his own guilt and responsibility, by the pain his careless brother caused, and by the legacy of war he's just left. This quick visit home to St. Hampton Heath will be just long enough to ease a small part of that burden. Asking him to bother with the lives of the villagers when there's already a bailiff on the job is simply too much to expect. That is, until the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. With her angelic voice in his head, he may even be beginning to care. But his isn't the only heart that needs to change. These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society's opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way. Fans of Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Julie Klassen will enjoy the spirited exchanges between the bluestocking minister's daughter and the bruised war hero as they move past pride and presumption to a humbled appreciation of God's grace and the true strength of love.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel Publishing on behalf of the author to facilitate a review. Opinions are solely my own and I was not compensated.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fairy Tale Titles In Time For Live Action Beauty and the Beast Movie ie. First Stories Fairy Tales for young hands [Review & Giveaway]

Talk about the new movie Beauty and the Beast just releasing is seemingly on all fronts. Adults, teens, and kiddies alike are talking. So here we go on Chat With Vera - a bit of fairy tale wonder for the small ones. Board books designed with push, pull, and slide features to engage the young hands and mind and traipse a bit into the different world that is "the fairy tale."

ISBN: 9781626868977

First Stories: Beauty and the Beast by Dan Taylor (Illustrations)

"Do you love me, Beauty? Will you marry me?" First Stories: Beauty and the Beast is a perfect introduction to this classic fairytale. Push, pull, and turn mechanisms bring the story to life and introduce all the main characters: Beauty, her father, and of course the Beast! This well-loved fairytale is beautifully imagined for a new generation by children's illustrator Dan Taylor.

My thoughts: Now I don't know, but I think I would be a bit fearful if I was taken by my father to a huge house (think castle) and left with a beast. A big, furry, scary beast! But not young Beauty. She relished the fancy feast and saw his kindness. Beast fell in love with Beauty because of her happiness and laughter. Then the magical kiss that changed him from Beast to Handsome Prince.

A real fairy tale ending of happy-ever-after. An unrealistic story - but then most fairy tales are. I absolutely love the push, pull, slide, turn features. The books is bright and very sturdy. Silver Dolphin Books and artist Dan Taylor have done a grand job with this little book.

ISBN: 9781626868984

First Stories: Cinderella by Dan Taylor (Illustrations)

"Cinderella, you shall go to the ball!" First Stories: Cinderella is a perfect introduction to this classic fairytale. Push, pull, and turn mechanisms bring the story to life and introduce all the main characters: Cinderella, her stepsisters, the handsome prince, and of course the fairy godmother. This well-loved fairytale is beautifully imagined for a new generation by children's illustrator Dan Taylor.

My thoughts: Ah, we all know the sweet story of Cinderella and how she was rescued from her laborious life of drudgery by the magical abilities of the Fairy Godmother and the Prince who fell in love with her. All little girls want to be beautifully dressed for the magical ball and so they can relate to Cinderella.

Beautifully done in bright, energetic colors and illustrations, this little board book will entice once again young readers into the world that was Cinderella's.

Another fairy tale well done by Silver Dolphin Books and Dan Taylor and just right for little hands.

ISBN: 9781626869004

First Stories: Rapunzel by Dan Taylor (Illustrations)

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair!" First Stories: Rapunzel is the perfect introduction for young children to this classic fairytale. Push, pull, and turn mechanisms bring the story to life and introduce all the main characters: Rapunzel, the handsome prince, and of course the wicked witch! This well-loved fairytale is beautifully imagined for a new generation by children's illustrator Dan Taylor.

My thoughts: This board book is beautifully executed with engaging push, pull, slide tabs that reveal additional action and images. The size is a seven inch square just right for young hands. Colors are bright. Illustrations detailed and lively. The story is told in a sort of rhyme and is a retelling of an old fairy tale.

Being an old fairy tale, it begins with a harshness that I find unsuitable for the youth for which this board book is intended. Hence, particular care should  be exercised in reading it to young children. My reasoning?
A baby named Rapunzel, with hair so fair and bright, Was taken by a wicked witch, one dark and stormy night. (pictured are the parents looking on as the witch snatches the baby from the crib).
Now I realize that fairy tales involve witches, bad things happening, and happy-ever-after. But I am troubled (hmmmm... a troubled tale troubles me) that a young child be worried about their own safety and the ability of their parents to protect and care for him or her.

Otherwise, an adorable book and I truly love the push, pull, slide features.

3 Board Books for 1 Winner
Begins March 21
ENDS April 10 @ 12:011 a.m EDT
Open to USA Addresses Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


For nearly 20 years, Silver Dolphin Books has published award-winning activity, novelty, and educational nonfiction books for preschoolers to 12-year-olds. Our focus is to create books that engage and inspire children to learn more about the world around them while fostering a love of reading, exploration, and creative expression. From adorably-illustrated board books for toddlers, to interactive play and building sets, to sound books made for story time, we develop innovative books that both enlighten and entertain.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of each of these books from the publicist on behalf of author and publisher, Silver Dolphin Books, to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz illustrated by Brian Floca [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

On sale March 28 2017 
ISBN: 9780763648220
Picture Book, 80 pages
Ages 4-8
My thoughts:  This is a fun book to read and children will thoroughly enjoy it. Just the right length for readers in grades three and four who are delving into the realm of early chapter books with a substantial amount of text and abundantly illustrated, the young reader will gleefully cheer the Princess on as she rebels the rigid scheduling of her life and escapes to explore the great out-of-doors on her own.

Her co-conspirator is the wickedly cute crocodile who changes places with her in exchange for some luscious cream puffs.

The illustrations will capture the attention and tickle the funnies out of every reader. Brian Floca is a Caldecott Medalist and it is easy to see why he has been so recognized because his art charms, captures the attention, entertains, and tells the story just as the author intended - with wit and clarity.

The story by Newberry Medalist author Laura Amy Schlitz is just the right length for young readers who are entering the chapter book realm. It is complete with a beginning, need, solution, and conclusion. It ends on a joyful note which is good for young readers who love (and perhaps need) a happily-ever-after story.

The problem Princess Cora faces is an over scheduled life where she doesn't have time to discover the world and life on her own. Each scheduled activity is truly good and desirable, but they leave no time for her to be a child and do what a child does so well - play and discover. It has been said, "Play is the work of children." And so it is in a child's play that the work of self-discovery, invention, adaptation, and originality come into being. The story has a lesson for parents as well as a bit of fun for children.

What I especially like:
  • The wonderful illustrations done in strong pastels and with fascinating details.
  • The part where Princess Cora is on her own exploring the out-of-doors - picking strawberries, making a bed/fort under the pines, etc.
  • The wickedly funny crocodile.
  • The facial expressions on the characters showing their reactions.
What I didn't care much for:
  • Princess Cora calling something "stupid."
  • Princess Cora rebelling against her parent's plans.
  • Princess Cora being out 'n about on her own. (Of course, she was on the castle grounds, so this was probably o.k.)
I really think the book is superb and the author and artist have done a wonderful job of putting it together to create a charming story.

About the book: A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Medalist join forces to give an overscheduled princess a day off — and a deliciously wicked crocodile a day on.

Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick o  and of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile—a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure — climbing trees! getting dirty! having fun! — while her alter ego wreaks utter havoc inside the castle, obliging one pair of royal helicopter parents to reconsider their ways.
Begins March 20
ENDS April 10 @ 12:01 EDT
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Once Upon An Elephant by Linda Stanek from Arbordale Publishing [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: I tend to think of elephants as large animals that roam Africa and as gentle giants of the animal world. I've seen them in zoos and in the circus. Recently, their plight in captivity has been recognized and many have been rescued and located where they can live out the remainder of their lives.

But I recently learned that elephants are a crucial part of survival of other animals and species in the wild. They are what is considered a keystone species.

As they roam they leave deep impressions where their feet impact the earth. In these impressions, small puddles of water remain from which birds and small mammals can drink. They uproot and eat small trees that sprout in the grasslands enabling the grasslands to remain intact for those species that need such.

They use their tusks to dig and then eat the soil for nutrients and in so doing expose salts that other animals need to survive. They also dig down into the dry, hard earth and expose reservoirs of water so other animals can have water to survive.

All this and more is explained in the Arbordale picture book Once Upon An Elephant. Beautiful illustrations show how the elephant is so crucial to survival of other animals. At the end of the book are a couple of pages of additional information and activities for the Creative Mind. This is a trait of Arbordale Publishing's book and one I always look forward to seeing.

Once Upon An Elephant shows us that the elephant is important for other specices to survive and the way the elephant's life impacts these animals. Just another reason for us to help protect these magnificient creatures. The book is written as an enjoyable learning tool for preschoolers through early elementary.

About the book: From stopping wildfires to planting seeds, one animal is the true superhero that keeps the African savanna in balance. Elephants dig to find salt for animals to lick, their deep footprints collect water for everyone to drink, and they eat young trees to keep the forest from overtaking the grasslands. In every season, the elephants are there to protect the savanna and its residents but what would happen if the elephants were only "once upon a time"? Read along to discover the important role this keystone species plays in the savanna and explore what would happen if the elephants vanished. 

Begins March 20
Ends April 17 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA Addresses Only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Arbordale Publishing to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given.

Rain by Sam Usher Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: The imagination of a child - well, an imaginative little boy - coupled with what you can experience on a raining day out in the rain is truly marvelous as author/artist Sam Usher has given us in his book Rain. The real winner and story teller of the book is the illustrations as they tell the story that words can't convey - a boy's imagation and desire to explore and enjoy.

It's raining. It keeps raining and the boy really wants to go explore the puddles, catch drops in his mouth, and envision and experience the imaginary as he splashes and dashes through the rain. Granddad is busy writing a letter and other things grandpops do until when finally the rain stops and he says, "let's go." 

The adventure begins. The illustrations capture ships, pirates, flags, and oh so  much more that runs through the mind of the boy as he enjoys his adventure.

A lovely hardcover book with  glorious shinny spot gloss drops on the cover and inside you’ll find the enchanting and lively illustrations by the talented Sam Usher. A sure winner.

Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763692964
Picture book, 40 pages
Ages 3-7

About the book: Sam and Granddad brave the rain and floods and have the best adventure ever!

Sam wants to go out, but it's pouring rain, so Granddad says they need to stay inside until the rain stops. Sam drinks hot chocolate and reads his books and dreams of adventures while Granddad does some paperwork. When Granddad needs to mail his letter, it’s time to go out—despite the rain and floods—and Sam and Granddad have a magical adventure. The follow-up to the acclaimed Snow, this is the second title in a four-book series based on the weather from creator Sam Usher.
Open to USA & CANADA
No P.O.Boxes
Begins March 19 
Ends April 9 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the pubilsher to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones

My thoughts: Well respected and highly anticipated author, Sally Lloyd-Jones has used her unique talent to share Psalm 23 with the very young child and artfully created the message with easy to interpret pictures that the young child can understand.

The text of the beloved Psalm 23 is simply put forth in words for the very young child. To me this is not an opportunity to actually teach the Psalm to the child. No, it is a little board book for young hands and young hearts to be able to understand how God is always with the child and He will always take care of him or her.

I would strongly encourage parents and caregivers to begin teaching the actual text of Psalm 23 to the child in short phrases as soon as they are able to grasp it. Committing it to memory will surely bring comfort throughout his or her life. But for the time being and for the very young child, it is good to take an opportunity such as the book Found presents to teach the child about God's presence.

About the book: From the bestselling The Jesus Storybook Bible, with over two million products sold, comes Found based on Psalm 23. Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago, little ones will fall in love with this padded cover board book that reminds them of God’s never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through the BookLook review program to facilitate this review. I was not compensated.

The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler from Eerdman's Publishing

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Hardcover: 42 pages
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 978-0802854889
My thoughts:  The use of a collection of hues and shades of blues by the artist author to create The Blue Hour results in an engaging sensual delight. So many and varied creatures and objects exist that are of blue colorization and yet we miss it in our daily lives. Yes, we delight when we see a Blue Bird or a Blue Jay and we love blue flowers and blue skies, but there is more, so much more.

Isabelle Simler has gathered this variety from across the globe and all climates. And then she has settled them what is known, especially in the photographic world, as "The Blue Hour." Just what is "the blue hour"?
The blue hour (from French l'heure bleue) is the period of twilight early in the dawn each morning and late in the dusk each evening when the sun is at a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. This effect is caused by the relative diffusibility of short blue wavelengths of light versus the longer red wavelengths. During the blue "hour" (typically a period about 40 minutes in length), red light passes straight into space while blue light is scattered in the atmosphere and therefore reaches the earth's surface. Many artists treasure this period because of the quality of the light. (source)
The children's picture book uses limited text with beautiful artistry predominantly in blues with vivid touches of other colors to tell the story of how the world and its creatures settle down for the night and it is such a gentle, sweet story.

Beautiful blue flowers and blue butterflies, moths, insects.
I found the book to be a treasure in that it is a gentle bedtime reading, an artistically beautiful book, educational in global placement of all the creatures, and an introduction into the "blue hour" phenomena. And there is also the two pages at the beginning with circles of named shades and hue of blue with will prove to be a great tool for identifying specific blues. A plus for any library collection which I highly recommend.
This global image shows each of the creatures featured in The Blue Hour and their location.

About the book:  A lovely and tranquil celebration of nature

The sun has set, the day has ended, but the night hasn't quite arrived yet. This magical twilight is known as the blue hour. Everything in nature—sky, water, flowers, birds, foxes—comes together in a symphony of blue to celebrate the merging of night and day.

With its soothing text and radiant artwork, this elegant picture book displays the majesty of nature and reminds readers that beauty is fleeting but also worth savoring.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Eerdmans Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Still Life by Dani Pettrey from Bethany House Publishing

ISBN13: 9780764212956
My thoughts: The author, Dani Pettrey, has woven a multi-layered suspense story set in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Utilizing a cozy group of co-workers who probe until they find the culprits in the horrific criminal cases to which they have been assigned. Pettrey takes the reader into the world that makes up the lives of these men and women of valor.

The friendship, sense of humor, and romantic entanglements show they are human and how they cope with the grimness that is their daily world. Infused with faith that sustains and gives hope, the characters learn to overcome their past and go forth forgiven.

In Still Life the main thread dances around the photographic art show from which a main piece has been swapped out and in its place another piece depicting a posed model who appears to have been dead when the picture was taken. As the team pursues the art theft a darker, twisted crime becomes evident requiring intense probing.

While the team pursues this art crime, others of the team tackle a boating incident involving human trafficking.

Pettrey shows the reader how dark and depraved the human physic can become and yet she handles these issues with discretion. I don't care for reading about some of the elements of criminal depravity addressed in Still Life but the author writes without too much horrific detail.

About the book: Work hits too close to home for crime scene photographer Avery Tate when her best friend disappears. The only lead is a chilling photo of her--apparently dead. As Avery, her boss Parker, and his friends dig into the case, she's forced to confront her feelings for Parker when they come face-to-face with a dangerous criminal.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Beth House to facilitate a review of my opinions. I was not compensated.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Easter Ideals 2017 by Melinda L.R. Rumbaugh [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: I have enjoyed the Ideals publications (seasonal) since my teen years when my mother would purchase them - specifically the Christmas and Easter/Spring editions. Each year Ideals collects poems, sayings,  Scripture, hymns, and beautiful pictures to bring the reader a collection suitable for that season and filled with inspiration, beautiful word usage, and readings worth perusing again and again.

The reading of poetry is somewhat a lost art and most folks won't sit long enough for the nuances of poetic phraseology to envelope their heart and mind. But if introduced early in life it is often enjoyed throughout life.

In Easter Ideals 2017 the collection speaks to the loveliness of bursting Spring, colors of flowers, and the dressing of nature reflected in the dressing of little girls in spring dresses and bonnets. The readings segue into the more serious aspect of the Easter season - that of the resurrection of Christ the Lord. I love this aspect most of all.

I recommend the acquisition of Easter Ideals 2017. Note: I personally do not like the Easter egg traditions and this Ideals does include some of these.

Publication information: Spring brings renewal, hope, rebirth, new growth—and a new issue of Easter Ideals, which celebrates all of this and more. The annual compilation of poetry, prose, recipes, and Bible excerpts, paired with gorgeous seasonal photography and artwork, returns once again with a new edition for 2017.

This beautiful softcover treasury will inspire readers after a long winter, evoking the joy and warmth of the emerging spring, celebrating the resurrection of life, and honoring the risen Lord. Authors and poets such as Pamela Kennedy and Eileen Spinelli reflect upon the season’s special moments and the holiday’s spiritual significance. Bible excerpts and inspirational poetry remind us of the reason we celebrate Easter, and beautiful photographs and artwork bring color and life to each page.

Easter Ideals will appeal to all who wish to embrace and experience the traditions, beauty, and joy of this special time of year.
Begins March 11
ENDS March 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT.
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Angels in the Bible for Little Ones by Allia Zobel Nolan & illustrated by Alida Massari - published by Zondervan

My thoughts: This is a quality board book with soft, padded cover and is sized just right for young hands. The illustrations by the Italian artist Alida Massari bear strong influence from Italian art masterpieces and a little of the Russian icon art. Beautiful and inspiring.

The book is more complex than a typical child's board book in that it is a compilation of Bible stories in which Angels appeared or played a major roll. The text is simple enough to be read to young children and also for young readers to be able to read for themselves.

Stories included include: Abraham and the Three Visitors, Food For Elijah, Daniel and the Lions, A Surprise Visitor (angel visits Mary), Voices Like Thunder (shepherds in field), Jesus the Children and the Angels, The Best Message Ever (stone rolled away from the empty tomb), and A Place Filled With Angels. As you can see, this is a nice selection that encompases the breadth of the Bible. A grand introduction to the study and understanding of Angels for the young child.

This is a treasure of a little book that young hands should hold and learn from. I recommend!

About the book:  Angels in the Bible for Little Ones gives children a fascinating look into how powerful behind-the-scenes helpers interacted with Bible greats such as Abraham, Daniel, and Mary, acting as messengers, protectors, warriors, and more. This padded cover board book, written by bestselling author Allia Zobel Nolan and illustrated by Alisa Massari, brings eight stories from the Bible to life for little ones.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from BookLook on behalf of Zondervan Publishing to facilitate this review of my own opinions. I was not compensated.

WorthyKids/Ideals Launches Series about an Adventurous Bunny Learning to Do the Right Thing [Review & 2-book Giveaway]

No, No, Bunny (March 7, 2017; ISBN 9780824916510; $7.99; 16 pp), Little Bunny has been taking things that don’t belong to him: pennies from Mama’s purse, a friend’s toy car, and a candy bar from the store. Taking everything seemed like a good decision at the time, but now Little Bunny feels sad. He confesses to his Mama and returns the items to their owners, learning that doing what’s right is always best.

Uh-Oh, Bunny (March 7, 2017; ISBN 9780824916503; $7.99; 16 pp) finds Little Bunny being a bit careless: drawing on walls, knocking over a plant, tearing pages from a book. When Mama asks him about the messes, Little Bunny chooses to be honest, which makes Mama happy. With Mama’s help, Little Bunny cleans up each mess. Preschoolers will learn, in a gentle, non-didactic way, that telling the truth is always best.

My thoughts: Both of the Adventurous Bunny books are charming, fun reads that teach young bunny (and young human toddlers) that there are just some things they shouldn't do. The lessons are sweetly taught in the simple language and sweet illustrations.

As this Adventurous Bunny explores his world, he learns to do the right thing and his mother encourages him in the right way.

No, No, Bunny specifically focuses on wrongful acts that Bunny must learn to choose to not do such as taking things that do not belong to him.

Uh-oh, Bunny specifically focuses on Bunny's careless acts that result in his breaking or messing up things. Bunny learns to recognize how his compulsive acts cause problems.

These make nice gift books or teaching books for the young child.

About the author: Pamela Kennedy loves writing for children and has authored more than thirty books of stories, prayers, and devotions. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, playing with her grandchildren, and exploring the beaches of Puget Sound.

About the illustrator: Claire Keay lives in an ancient market town in the south of England where she works from her little home studio. After years working as a special education teacher for preschoolers, Keay decided to pursue her love of illustration. She now happily illustrates several children’s books each year, as well as children’s magazines, greeting cards, and stationery. In her spare time, Keay loves to garden, spend time with her teenage sons, and sing in her local community choir.

About the publisher: Worthy Publishing Group (www.worthypublishing.com) is a privately held, independent voice in inspirational publishing, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Worthy has four imprints: Worthy Books publishes a broad spectrum of genres, including current events, pop culture, biography, fiction, spiritual growth, and specialized Bibles; WorthyKids/Ideals creates colorful, interactive children’s books, including VeggieTales and Berenstain Bears, for ages 2 to 8; Ellie Claire produces beautifully crafted journals, gifts and paper expressions; and Worthy Inspired publishes inspirational felt-need, personal growth, and devotional books.
Begins March 8
ENDS March 21 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: I was provided complimentary copies to facilitate a review of my honest opinions which are given without compensation.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

More-igami by Dori Kleber illustrated by G. Brian Karas [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

ISBN 9780763668198
Hardcover $15.99 US / $21.00 CAN
Ages 4-8
My thoughts: The art of Origami is typically thought to be Oriental. However, anyone who loves folding paper to make pretty objects can fall in love with the art form of Origami. That is certainly the case with young Joey. "Joey loved things that folded...." He love his accordian, had a folding bed to sleep in, and loved to fold road maps.

Then (yep, enter the Oriental influence) young Sarah Takimoto's mother visited the school and a new type of folding was introduced into the life of young Joey.

Joey practiced and found it was much harder to do than he thought. Then he found a new way to practice that actually helped a friend.

The story is sweet and will encourage a child that is trying to learn to do something new. The illustrations show Joey and his family and friends drawn with boldness and colors that will grab the attention of the young child.

I found this book to be entertaining and packed with the lesson of how one should keep trying to master a task until they accomplish it and how to stay cheerful while doing so.

About the book: A creative young boy with a passion for practicing origami finds a surprising source of encouragement on his diverse city block.

Joey loves things that fold: maps, beds, accordions, you name it. When a visiting mother of a classmate turns a plain piece of paper into a beautiful origami crane, his eyes pop. Maybe he can learn origami, too. It’s going to take practice — on his homework, the newspaper, the thirty-eight dollars in his mother’s purse . . . Enough! No more folding! But how can Joey become an origami master if he’s not allowed to practice? Is there anywhere that he can hone the skill that makes him happy — and maybe even make a new friend while he’s at it?

Begins March 8
Ends March 29 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addrsses (No P.O.Boxes)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Without Warning: A JB Collins Novel by Joel Rosenburg (available in stores March 14, 2017)

ISBN 978-1-4964-0616-3
Hardcover $26.99
About the Book: As he prepares to deliver the State of the Union address, the president of the United States is convinced the Islamic State is on the run, about to be crushed by American forces once and for all. But New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins tells the president he’s dead wrong. With the Middle East on fire, the Israeli prime minister dead, and Amman in ruins, Collins fears a catastrophic attack inside the American homeland is imminent. He argues that only an all-out manhunt to capture or kill Abu Kahlif―the leader of ISIS―can stop the attack and save American lives. But will the president listen and take decisive action before it’s too late?

Read a PDF Excerpt - click here

My thoughts: When Joel Rosenburg "puts pen to paper" he opens doors to areas of life unknown and inexperienced to the average person. His fiction into the political, espionage, terrorist world of today reads like reports to heads of state and back-workings of news journalists who are in the know.

Having read earlier novels about national security journalist J.B.Collins, I highly anticipated this conclusion to the series - Without Warning. Rosenburg did not disappoint. His writing was fast paced, detailed, with characters whose believability was flawless. His descriptions left this reader placed squarely within the scene with the action.

J.B.Collins is not a Christian though raised in the Church. His brother is a professor of theology. Both see action in this story. They both see grief as well as it reaches into their beings. The horrific scenes of terrorist attracts on America are unbelievably realistic and horrifying to imagine.

The title is so apt in the case of this story from beginning to end. While warned sufficiently, it seems that horror can hit at any moment, Without Warning.

I highly recommend this series for all high school to adult readers. It is clean. It is horrifyingly real. It is Christian in scope. It takes the reader through action and also into the courts of Islamic Princes' and Heads of State. 

About the author (from Amazon): Joel C. Rosenberg (www.joelrosenberg.com) is a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of eleven novels and five nonfiction books, with more than 3 million copies sold.

His books have been read and enjoyed by a wide range of U.S. and foreign leaders, including former CIA Director Porter Goss, former Delta Force Commander Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, Sen. Marco Rubio, former Sen. Rick Santorum, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, and former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

Joel has been interviewed on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including ABC’s Nightline, CNN, CNN Headline News, C-SPAN, Fox News, MSNBC, The History Channel, the Rush Limbaugh Show, the Sean Hannity Show, and the Glenn Beck Show. His articles and columns have been published by National Review, FoxNews.com, CNN.com, the Jerusalem Post, World magazine, and the Washington Times, among others. He has been profiled by the New York Times, the Washington Times, and the Jerusalem Post.

Joel has spoken to audiences all across the U.S. and Canada and around the world, including Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, India, South Korea, and the Philippines. He has also addressed audiences at the White House and the Pentagon, members of Congress on Capitol Hill, members of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, and spoken at a conference held at the European Union Parliament in Brussels.

Purchase - click here

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Tyndale Fiction to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own, alone, and I was not compensated to review the book.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Home to Paradise (The Coming Home Series #3) by Barbara Cameron - Amish Fiction from Abingdon Press

ISBN13: 9781426769931
My thoughts: This is a gentle story about a young woman and young man who really care for each other but whose lives aren't meshing as they would wish. For personal familial reasons, John and his two brothers had left their Amish home and community and ventured into the outside community and away from the Amish. Eventually John's two brothers returned to the Amish community and church and married young Amish women. John just couldn't seem to do this and his former sweetheart, Rose Anna, really wished he would return back to the Amish fold and to her.

John does live and work nearby on a horse farm owned by a retired big city attorney but he also works two other small jobs. He is not in the Amish church and this is the major reason he can not court and marry Rose Anna. John does help his two brothers on their farms typical of the way that the Amish have of helping each other.

His relationship with Neil, the owner of the horse farm, soon becomes close and similar to that of father and son. John truly finds joy in working on the horse farm and is considered a "horse whisperer."

The gentle story is somewhat predictable but there is a nice surprise twist or so to it. Barbara Cameron's writing is very enjoyable. I highly recommend this delightfully clean read.

About the book: Rose Anna Zook has watched her two older sisters marry two Stoltzfus men and has always thought she and John, the third Stoltzfus brother, would marry, make a home together, and have children. But John has other ideas. He's enjoying his Rumschpringe in the Englisch world a little too much and isn't interested in returning to the Amish community---especially to marry.

Rose Anna is determined to bring her man back into the Amish fold. John is equally determined to live his life free and unencumbered. Who will win this battle of wills? Will love prevail?

Meet the Author: Barbara Cameron is a best-selling author who has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the author of more than 38 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Barbara is a former newspaper reporter. Some of her non-fiction titles include the Everything Weddings on a Budget Book and Her Restless Heart: A Woman's Longing for Love and Acceptance. Cameron currently resides in Edgewater, Florida.

Want some more information about the book? Click here

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review from the Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the author and publisher, Abingdon Press. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated to review the book.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Raging Storm (The Remnant Series #2) by Vannetta Chapman [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780736966559
Harvest House Publishers
$14.99 Paperback
Dystopian fiction
My thoughts: I always highly anticipate reading Vannetta Chapman's new releases. Raging Storm is certainly no exception and reading it has further cemented my opinion of her as an author with varied talents who can and does write fiction that is clean, exciting, interesting, and thought provoking.

As book two in The Remnant Series opens, Raging Storm has the featured individuals from book one (Deep Shadows) now venturing forth to find medical supplies for the inhabitants of their small town. They must try to avoid raging gangs of evil, unscrupulous people caught up in the devastation that resulted from the solar flare that left civilization totally uncivilized with no electricity or other utilities, no food, no medical supplies or hospitals, no protection. Conditions are bad. In fact, they are now so much worse than bad.

As they pierce the evil that is enveloping the large capital city, they do find a small group of people who call themselves "the Remnant." But they also find a different group ensconced in an old church that promises refuge but proves otherwise. Just who can they trust?

Will they be able to find the much needed medical supplies? How will they survive?

The questions this story opens up to niggle in our heads is, "What would we do if our world should today suddenly cease to exist? How would we react? How would we manage? Would we still hold to our faith in God?"

I highly recommended. Get a copy of Deep Shadows (The Remnant Series #1) and read it. Then read Raging Story (The Remnant Series #2.

About the book: In the Darkness, Anarchy Awakens

When a massive solar flare wiped out all modern technology across the globe, the small town of Abney, Texas, was thrown into chaos. Shelby Sparks and her teenage son, Carter, have found refuge, but Shelby knows she can't simply remain hidden forever. Carter is a type 1 diabetic in need of insulin—and Shelby will risk her life traveling to Austin to make sure he gets it.

Shelby's best friend and high school sweetheart, Max Berkman, won't even consider letting her make the perilous journey alone. Together, they manage to get to the capital—only to discover that while things are desperate in Abney, Austin has turned into an urban nightmare on the brink of anarchy.

Shelby and Max's search for medical supplies will lead them into terrifying territory, where the only thing more uncertain than finding what they need is the hope of making it out of the city alive.

In this second book in an eerily plausible, action-packed dystopian series, survival will be threatened and faith will be put to the ultimate test as a raging storm engulfs America.


Begins March 4
ENDS March 25 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by the author to facilitate this review. I was not compensated. Opinions are my own.

To celebrate Women's History Month we look at "Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century" (National Geographic Kids Books) by Sue Macy [Review & Giveaway]

To celebrate Women's History Month we are looking at how women drove boldly into the Twentieth Century. Various contributions of women to the events in history and in today's world is highlighted in a variety of manners. Chat With Vera celebrates and acknowledges the women who bravely jumped into the seats of early automobiles and challenged the roads that lead to their abilities to participate more in the events that changed the world. International Women's Day is on March 8.

ISBN 978-1426326974
Ages 10+ - Grades 5 & Up
Hardcover 96 pages $18.99
Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century (National Geographic Kids Books) by Sue Macy

Sixty plus pages of photographs and drawings placing various women in automobiles during the turn of the century coupled with text that states the facts of events as they unfolded showing women rolling boldly forward will enable the reader to share the history and excitement of these participants who paved the way so today's women, young and old, would have the opportunity to drive a vehicle themselves and in various capacities.

Theirs was not an easy road. They were faced with strong opposition because they were women and seemingly unsuited for such activities. They drove perilous roads in unstable cars fitted with narrow wheels and weak tires.

History buffs will really enjoy viewing the plethora of antique photographs that vividly tell the story of these strong, adventurous women. I personally found the fragile and open cars daunting and further admire these women who ventured forth in them.
These historic pictures show the lady on the left car is mired in the mud on the road. The man is trying to help her.
The picture on the right shows a lady cranking the car to start it. A lot different from today's ignitions.

This book is surely a tribute to the daring women — Motor Girls, as they were called (and featured in a poem) at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s. Women who dared to change and who dared to learn new skills considered unsuited for them.
These ladies were ambulance drivers in World War I. Quite the controversary to have a woman that near battle
and also to drive. But how brave they were and what a tremendously important task they undertook.

These women, "Motor Girls," chose to drive cars for a variety of reasons. It was fun. It liberated them from the constraints of culture of that time. They could earn money driving a vehicle. It gave them the opportunity to get "out 'n about" on their own.

A good book to have in any library. Be sure to see if your local library has a copy. If they don't, request it.

About the book: Come along for a joy ride in this enthralling tribute to the daring women – Motor Girls, as they were called at the turn of the century – who got behind the wheel of the first cars and paved the way for change. The automobile has always symbolized freedom, and in this book we meet the first generation of female motorists who drove cars for fun, profit, and to make a statement about the evolving role of women. From the advent of the auto in the 1890s to the 1920s when the breaking down of barriers for women was in full swing, readers will be delighted to see historical photos, art, and artifacts and to discover the many ways these progressive females influenced fashion, the economy, politics, and the world around them.

Here is a peek at a few pages to whet your appetite for more. Click here (pdf file)

Begins March 3
ENDS March 24 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
A girl with a book in a hammock,
As she gracefully swung to and fro,
Was the dream of the men in the summer,
A very few seasons ago.
The hammock gave way to lawn tennis,
And then came the "bike" for a whirl;
Like shadows in light they all fade out of sight,
giving place to the Motor Girl.
--"The Motor Girl," Lyrics by Charles J. Campbell ©1909
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.