Friday, November 30, 2018

Mind Games by Nancy Mehl [Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780764231841
Paperback $15.99
Purchase here
About the book: Kaely Quinn's talents as an FBI behavior analyst are impossible to ignore, no matter how unorthodox her methods. But when a reporter outs her as the daughter of an infamous serial killer, she's demoted to field agent and transferred to St. Louis.

When the same reporter who ruined her career claims to have received an anonymous poem predicting a string of murders, ending with Kaely's, the reporter's ulterior motives bring his claim into question. But when a body is found that fits the poem's predictions, the threat is undeniable, and the FBI sends Special Agent Noah Hunter to St. Louis.

Initially resentful of the assignment, Noah is surprised at how quickly his respect for Kaely grows, despite her oddities. But with a brazen serial killer who breaks all the normal patterns on the loose, Noah and Kaely are tested to their limits to catch the murderer before anyone else--including Kaely herself--is killed.

Read an excerpt - click here

Nancy Mehl ( is the author of more than thirty books, including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary, and Defenders of Justice series. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. She writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. She is part of The Suspense Sisters:, along with several other popular suspense authors. She is also very active on Facebook.

Begins December 1
Ends December 30 at 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purchase it now at Amazon - click here

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a copy by Bethany House Publishing to facilitate a review. Any opinions expressed will be mine alone and freely given. The winner's copy is to be provided by and mailed by the author or publisher.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Who Sang the First Song? by Ellie Holcomb and illustrated by Kayla Harren

ISBN: 9781535940627  $14.99
Find it here on sale $8.99
Hardcover ~ B&H Kids
My thoughts:  Do you ever ask yourself off-the-wall questions like "Was there sound when God created the universe?" or "How big is God?"? Well, the author, Ellie Holcomb seems to be one who contemplates such questions and she brings that thought concept to the very young child - a picture-book-age child.

In Who Sang the First Song? the author drifts through parts of the creation asking if someone or something sang.

"...was the first song when the thumder went BOOM?"

"Did the sun sing a song as it colored the sky?"

But at the end the reader learns that all guesses are incorrect because.... "It was God, our Maker who sang the first song!   ... every heart and every thing was born with a song it was made to sing."

Beautifully illustrated by Kayla Harren with art that will delight the young and adults who enjoy the book. The detail is absolutely fabulous. Designed for the preschool age child, the concept of such theoretical thinking goes beyond that age group.

But just imagine if you will..... God singing at the creation of His Universe.

About the book: In this engaging board book with whimsical art, singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb asks a childlike question and answers with a lovely lyrical tale that shows young readers that God our Maker sang the first song, and He created us all with a song to sing.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy hardcover copy from B&H Blogger program to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Book is also available in "board book" and "eBook" formats.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Toys you might like to look at for your young ones


NOTE: If you shop using these links, Chat With Vera, might receive an affiliate's commision. Thank you for supporting Chat With Vera.

New Growth Press’ Spirit of Giving "Youth Book Giveaway" 7 books in prize pack [Nov.26-Dec. 2 USA/CANADA]

Last week, I shared about books from New Growth Press for the youngest members of the family. Maybe your kids have outgrown that stage and are now preteens or teens.

Books are a great gift for those members of the family who need a break from all the electronics in the house. Actually, that may apply to everyone in the house! Books are a great gift for everyone in the family, by the way!

Even if there aren’t kids in your own house, I’m sure you know some young people who would enjoy these books. Maybe you are a youth leader or teacher with young people on your Christmas list.

This week, New Growth Press is giving away THREE gift boxes of books for tweens and teens. From November 26-December 2, you can enter to win one of three gift boxes of books (retail value of $114).

Each gift box includes the following titles for youth:

The complete Rwendigo Tales series by J. A. Myhre:

Written by J. A. Myhre, a doctor living and working in East Africa, this adventure series teaches readers of all ages important truths about justice, overcoming evil, and the courage to make a difference. The latest release is A Fever, a Flight, and a Fight for the World, a compelling African adventure story that will enthrall eight- to fourteen-year-old youth who love adventure and learning about faraway places. In the exciting fourth and final book in the Rwendigo Tales Series, readers will be inspired by ordinary people who make the extraordinary choice to stand against great evil.

Dragon Seed by Marty Machowski

An angry teen, a desperate mother, a missing father, and a shadow lurking in the background. Things were going from bad to worse for Nick and his family. Tempted to run away after yet another argument with his mom, Nick receives a handwritten, leather-bound copy of an old book—a family legend passed down to him from his great grandfather. The book, called Dragon Seed, leads Nick deep into his family’s history and introduces him to another angry young man who lived in the shadows (the shadows of the tombs). Like Nick, you’ll be shocked to discover where he fits in this story of epic proportions!

The Biggest Win: Pro Football Players Tackle Faith by Joshua Cooley

The Biggest Win gives athletes and sports fans of all ages a unique, insider's look into the lives and faith of six Christian NFL players from the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl team. Through the ups and downs of their experiences, author Joshua Cooley shows how these high-profile athletes remain committed to God's Word, genuine Christian discipleship, and sharing their faith. Using their voices and stories, The Biggest Win gives sports-minded readers hope and direction for living out their faith while competing. See your youth athletes' faith grow as they hear and learn from the amazing stories of these Super Bowl Champions.

Between Us Girls: Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters by Trish Donohue

Between Us Girls was written for mothers with daughters between the ages of seven and fourteen. These twenty-six gospel-driven talks are a fun and easy guide for mothers who want to disciple their daughters but don’t know where to start. In each short chapter, moms and daughters read God’s Word, ask one another questions about their thoughts and experiences, get honest about their struggles with sin, brainstorm ways to live out their faith, and build genuine fellowship into their relationship.

(Between Us Guys for dads and sons will be available in May 2019!)

In case you don’t win the prize pack, sign-up for New Growth Press’ e-news at to receive information about their Countdown to Christmas discounts so that you can order copies. Be sure to follow them on social media as well where they will be sharing daily deals throughout the Christmas season ( | |

DISCLOSURE: This post information/material was provided by Read With Audra and I received no compensation to share it on this blog.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Poetry of US edited by former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis [Giveaway US/CANADA]

Welcome to The Poetry of US Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of The Poetry of US edited by former U.S. Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, blogs across the web are featuring selected poems from The Poetry of US plus 8 chances to win a copy! Follow along on this road trip across the U.S. through poems and pictures!

by J. Patrick Lewis, former U.S. Children's Poet Laureate and editor of The Poetry of US

Have you ever traveled across the United States but not in a car, bus, plane, or train? If you have, you know what it’s like to play a true “mind game.” Because your brain is the best and fastest vehicle to get you from Alaska to Florida, New Mexico to Maine, and everywhere in between. Well, it helps, of course, if you have the comfort of a chair and this book, The Poetry of Us, sitting squarely in your lap.

It’s true, you know, as the great poet Robert Frost once said, “All poetry begins with Geography.” Some people call such writing “the poetry of place.” I call it a ticket to ride, a road atlas of words, or perhaps a word atlas of roads. Here you will find the Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day suddenly turned green, the Montana State Fair’s hog-calling contest, colorful Native American celebrations, Los Angeles traffic jams, the wealth of America as well as its inner city poverty and despair.

So open this book to find out about places you might know or places you’ve never been. You may even be encouraged to write a poem about your own hometown or somewhere that exists only on the map of your imagination.   

Power to the People: Signs of Our Democracy
(A Found Poem)

You Are on Stolen Land.
Your Backwards Views Are Older Than the Dinosaurs.
We Can’t Feed the Poor But We Can Fund a War.
Jim Crow Must Go.
End Segregated Rules. Put Prayer Back in Schools.
Stop the H8. The World Can’t Wait.
Don’t tread on me. Stop Police Brutality. We Demand Equality.
From Adam’s Rib to Women’s Lib.
Pro-Life. Women’s Choice.
Your Vote Is Your Voice.
No More! Outrage! Consumers Crave a Living Wage.
Occupy Wall Street. No More Pollution.
Government Is the Problem, Not the Solution.
Clenched fist. Peace sign. Flying dove.
We are America . Love and Let Love.
Activism is not a crime.
I’m tired of marching for what should already be mine.
-Carole Boston Weatherford


Blog Tour Schedule:

November 26th — Chat with Vera
November 27th — Beach Bound Books
November 28th — Christy's Cozy Corners
November 29th — Bookhounds
November 30th — YA and Kids Books Central

December 3rd — Java John Z's
December 4th — Word Spelunking
December 5th — A Dream Within a Dream

“ expansive gathering, with dazzling visuals” - Kirkus

Buy: National GeographicAmazon | Indiebound
Follow PatrickWeb site | Twitter | Instagram

Follow National Geographic Kids: Website | Twitter | Books Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

It's all about us! Join former U.S. Children's Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis on a lyrical journey through the United States to experience the wonders of America's people and places through 200+ inspiring poems and stunning photographs.

Celebrate the gift of language and the vibrant culture of the United States with this collection of classic and never-before-published poetry. Poems are arranged by region, from coast to coast, and among them you'll find works by Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, Robert Frost, Naomi Shihab Nye, Walt Whitman, and more. From the familiar to the surprising, subjects include people, places, landmarks, monuments, nature, and celebrations. Designed for sharing, but geared to younger readers, this beautifully illustrated treasury is a must-have for the whole family.

About the Author: J. PATRICK LEWIS is a former U.S. Children's Poet Laureate. He earned a B.A. at Saint Joseph's College, an M.A. at Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in economics at the Ohio State University. Lewis taught in the department of Business, Accounting and Economics at Otterbein College until 1998, when he became a full-time writer. He is the author of more than 50 books of poetry for children, including Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles (2009, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger); New York Times Best Illustrated Book The Last Resort (2002); The Shoe Tree of Chagrin (2001) which won the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators' Golden Kite Award; A Hippopotamusn't: And Other Animal Poems (1990); and he has collaborated with other poets on several collections.

His children's poetry has been widely anthologized, and his contributions to children's literature have been recognized with the 2011 Poetry Award from the National Council of Teachers of English and the Ohioana Awards' 2004 Alice Louise Wood Memorial Prize. His poetry for adults includes the collection Gulls Hold Up the Sky: Poems 1983-2010.


  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of The Poetry of Us
  • US/Canada only
  • Begins Nov. 26 and Ends December 10 at 12:01 a.m. EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of the book as a token of appreciation for posting this prepared material about the book and author. Opinions are not mine but those of author and publicist. Giveaway copy is provided by publicist or publisher and sent directly to the winner by them. NOTE: I can not personally endorse some of the content of this book of poetry. While some is that which I can endorse, there is some which I find strident, divisive, and that which condones or applauds ill speaking either societal or grammatically. Simply not "Vera's style."

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Enclave by Thomas Locke

My thoughts:  Science Fiction is not a genre into which I typically delve nor do I find it pleasurable to read. I do, however, enjoy the writings of Davis Bunn and thought I would venture into this story by his pseudonym, Thomas Locke.

Venturing into the future by 50 years into an American society deplete of rule of law, defined states, and society completely rife of any sense of fairness or democracy, the story presented a plethora of characters who venture out of their geographically defined area called an Enclave to cross boundaries prohibited in an effort to transact business.

The story evolves to the point of conflict where good overcomes evil and this is, of course, the outcome that we all enjoy seeing. But what seems to begin as an adventuresome business venture becomes a battle for rule of law and democracy.

Definitely dystopian, science fiction, post-tech period story with characters with weird abilities and who seemed as befuddled by their abilities as this reader was by the story. 

About the book: It's been 50 years since the Great Crash and what was once America is now a collection of enclaves, governed on the local level and only loosely tied together by the farce of a federal government. Catawba, one of the largest and most affluent enclaves in the southern states, is relatively stable and maintains a successful business of trade with nearby enclaves, including the one at Charlotte Township. But when a new vein of gold is found beneath the feet of those in Catawba, it's only a matter of time before trouble finds them.

Now the future of Catawba may be in the hands of an untried 21-year-old trader named Caleb. And Caleb knows that if his secret were ever to come out, he would never see another dawn.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the Revell Publishing review program to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Giblet Gravy and thoughts of Thanksgiving

As the family ages, different members take over preparation of various dishes for traditional Thanksgiving dinners. Here are the lovely thoughts expressed by my middle daughter today after a session in the kitchen - knowing that her sibilings were also in their kitchens preparing for our Thanksgiving gathering.......

The meat is carefully picked from the Turkey
neck bones.
“The heart, liver, gizzard, and the like, of a fowl, often cooked separately.”  According to, this is the official definition for “giblet.”  When you type in “giblet,” the first drop-down option given by Google is “giblet gravy.”  Who knew this was such common terminology? Giblet gravy conjures humorous debates over the proper pronunciation of “giblet,” what a gizzard is, how slimy neck bones feel, and how unhealthy organ meat is.  Mostly, it reminds us of Thanksgiving dinners prepared by Mom and Grandmama.

The rich broth from cooking giblets is base
for delicious giblet gravy.
Traditions can be burdensome.  To military families, divorced parents, and those whose children have moved across the country, the essence of holidays changes.   There are fewer celebrants, and the cooks are exhausted from long days at work.  So why bother with giblet gravy?  As my fingers searched for tiny bits of meat from between the turkey neck bones, I contemplated the depth of love that makes a mother or grandmother or sister or brother prepare laborious recipes for those they love.  The praline topping for a pumpkin pie.  Peeling and dicing potatoes, onions, and celery.  Why bother?  Because these are acts of love.  Because we are blessed beyond measure that there are people in our lives to love.  So “giblet” to me means “love.”  Whether together or miles apart, I am thankful for the parents, siblings, sons, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and friends that God has given me.

Finished giblet gravy ready for a pretty bowl. Gravy contains:
turkey neck meat, liver, and gizzard as well as boiled eggs.
I don’t always make giblet gravy, and I am the first to show appreciation for Mrs. Smith’s culinary skill.  I prefer ham instead of turkey, and I will never cook collards no matter how much my loved ones enjoy them.  But I hope to always be able to find a way to show my love to all of you.  By the way, the proper pronunciation for “giblet” is “jiblet.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Big Book Adventure by Emily Ford & illustrated by Tim Warnes

My thoughts: This is absolutely charming. It recounts many of the well known childhood stories as an adventure that two friends take. They rhymes are terrific the adventures grand! The illustrations are happy, detailed enough to carry you back to the story being referenced by the friends' adventure.

This is perfect for those families who love books and is a tribute to the parents who through the years  faithfully and happily return week after week to the local library with their children and who read to their children.

I highly recommend.

I received a complimentary copy for review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given.

About the book: Journey back through childhood classics like Peter Pan, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and more in this adorable picture book about the joys of reading!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

New Growth Press’ Spirit of Giving Children’s Book Giveaway (Nov. 19-25 - USA/CANADA)

Who doesn’t love giving and getting books for Christmas? (If you don’t, we may need to have a talk!)

Books are a great gift, especially for children. Not only do we want to encourage the love of reading and give them stories they will enjoy, we want to provide teaching moments. Plus giving little ones new books is really a gift to the parents as well. They need a break from the same old bedtime stories.

You don’t have to be a parent to buy for kids, you know! Maybe you have grandkids, nieces, nephews, neighbors, or want to bless some children from church.

New Growth Press is jumping into the gift giving season by giving away THREE children’s book gift boxes (retail value of $125 each). All of their children’s books are beautifully illustrated, entertaining, teach a lesson, and most importantly, are biblically based!

From November 19-25, you can enter to win one of three children’s gift boxes.

Each gift box includes five of New Growth Press’ new children’s releases and two of their best sellers:

God Counts: Numbers in His Word and His World by Irene Sun click here for link

This playful children’s book serves as a beginner’s theology book for young readers who love numbers and patterns. By discovering numbers in God’s world and in his Word, parents help their children foster a deeper love and knowledge of who God is and how he counts them as his. With countable illustrations and an easy-to-learn structure, children who are always seeking, finding, tracing, and counting numbers will be captivated by God Counts.

Buster’s Ears Trip Him Up: When You Fail edited by Edward T. Welch click here for link
Jax’s Tail Twitches: When You are Angry edited by David Powlison click here for link
Zoe’s Hiding Place: When You are Anxious edited by David Powlison click here for link

These three books are a part of the Good News for Little Hearts series. This is a new series of hardback, illustrated children’s books for three-to eight-year-olds—each centered on an animal family. The animal characters, colorful illustrations, and the real-life issues each animal family face will captivate children. The first three books address anxiety, anger, and failure, bringing biblical counsel and hope to issues every child faces. Together children and parents will be guided by the stories into meaningful conversations about living by faith in everyday life.

God Made Me and You by Shai Linne click here for link

God Made Me and You invites kids to explore God’s design for ethnic diversity. Because Scripture teaches that ethnic diversity is not something that should be tolerated but rather enthusiastically embraced, Christian hip hop artist Shai Linne helps children, parents, and caregivers to celebrate this biblical truth through a lyrical, rhyming style and colorful illustrations.

God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb click here for link

God Made All of Me is an invaluable resource and beautifully illustrated story to help families talk about sensitive issues with two- to eight-year-old children. This helpful guide starts from the fundamental truth that God created everything and applies that truth to kids and their bodies. With the help of God Made All of Me, parents and caregivers can begin conversations with boys and girls about their bodies, navigating a discussion that can so easily be warped into confusion, embarrassment, and secrecy.

The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith by Champ Thornton click here for link

The Radical Book for Kids is a fun-filled explorer’s guide to the Bible, church history, and life for boys and girls ages eight and up. Vibrantly illustrated and chock-full of fun facts and ideas, this interactive book competes with screen time by stimulating children’s natural curiosity and sense of adventure! Along with the many fun and exciting stories of historical figures, young and old readers alike will learn about the roots of our faith and the importance of the gospel in our lives.

In case you don’t win the prize pack, sign-up for New Growth Press’ e-news at to receive information about their Countdown to Christmas discounts so that you can order copies. Be sure to follow them on social media as well where they will be sharing daily deals throughout the Christmas season.

 ( | |

DISCLOSURE: I was not compensated for this courtesy post and information was provided by publicist on behalf of the publishing house. Giveaway is run and provided and shipped by publicist or publisher.

Ginger Essential Oil from Gya Labs #sponsored #review

I recently became quite interested in using essential oils in a diffuser therapeutically for me and my husband. I initially acquired a set of 6 oils and have been experimenting using them singularly or in combination in my diffuser. What a pleasant sense these impart in our home, and I am in high hopes that they will bring a variety of helps to us therapeutically not only emotionally or to our psychic but physically to our respiratory system, etc. Time will tell.

Recently, I became aware of the Gya Lab brand of essential oils and tried their Rose Geranium which is lovely in my diffuser with or without other oils added. So the opportunity to try the Gya Lab Ginger essential oil presented itself; and knowing that ginger root has long been recognized for health qualities, I thought this would be a good choice to add to my assortment of essential oils.

Buy it - click here

So I began diffusing the Gya Lab Ginger oil by itself and it was OK. Then I diffused it in a combination of two other oils - cinnamon and cloves, and found it quite pleasant. It will take some time to come up with a combination that really is special to me. But these are a real good start. Or perhaps some sweet orange in the mix.

I think I might try the Gya Rose Geranium and Ginger together - both are from Gya Labs.

I don't plan to use essential oils directly on my skin or experiment with lotions, creams, and other household uses. For now just in the diffuser. I am really enjoying my venture into the world of therapeutic essential oils.

You may find the Gya Lab Ginger Essential Oil on Amazon - click here

Disclosure: I received this product at no cost or highly discounted resulting in a #sponsored review. Opinions expressed are my own. I only review products that I or a member of my family has used. I was not compensated for this review.

A Fearless Leader: A Bible Story About Deborah (Called and Courageous Girls Series) by: Rachel Spier Weaver and Anna Haggard

My thoughts:  Who knows why the story of Deborah is used so little in Sunday school materials. Is it because she was a strong woman, fearless, and a leader? Up until recent years, women is most societies have not been appreciated if they exhibited these strengths and characteristics.

Not so in the Bible. God used Deborah as a courageous leader. In this publication, A Bible Story About Deborah: A Fearless Leader, young people will all learn about the strength  she had and how she was used by God.

Published by Harvest Kids an imprint of Harvest House Publications the book is beautifully illustrated using intense browns, golds, yellows, and purples. There is an exotic feel about the illustrations which coupled with the fierceness of the drawings depicting battles render an understanding of the turbulent times in which Deborah lived.

I highly recommen this book for homes, schools, libraries, and especially church libraries. (Read the story in Judges 4 and 5 of the Bible.)

About the book: Learn the story of Deborah, an imaginative and perceptive young girl who grows up to be a natural leader, sharing God's will with His people and helping them solve difficult problems. With God's help, you can be just like Deborah—called and courageous!

Rachel Spier Weaver is a recruiter at HOPE International and has worked as a career counselor at the University of Florida and Dickinson College. She is passionate about sharing stories of women of God who led in extraordinary ways. She lives with her husband, Shane, and their two children, Norah and Jack.

Anna Haggard is coauthor of The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good and Mission Drift, a 2015 Christianity Today Book Award winner. A writer and editor for the Brethren in Christ U.S., Anna previously was a staff writer for HOPE International. She is delighted to write for children (her favorite people).

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from Harvest House Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Henry is Kind: A Story of Mindfulness by Linda Ryden, Shearry Malone (Illustrations)

copies of all 3 sent right out. We can offer giveaways of Henry and Acadia 2: Autumn - US/Can 

My thoughts:  Basically, the "mindfulness" is simply a restating of the old adage of being kind one toward another and to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. These precepts are readily taught in the Bible (Christian) and also in society as a whole. We need more kindness in the world and it is helpful that schools are focusing on leading children into demonstrations and acts of kindness. Letting them see how it can benefit themselves and others individually and as a whole is positive reinforcement of the concept.

In Henry is Kind the school setting is used to show how the class is taught the exercise of mindful kindness. Henry feels replete of feelings of kindness and acting out kindness, but others show him that he is and has been, indeed, quite kind.

This is totally a secular story and in a somewhat stealthy manner presents the practice of yoga. The story is nice and Henry does feel better about things in the end. The whole group learns how to be kind and how to purposefully move toward acting out kindness toward others. That is good.

I don't care much for the illustrations. Just not a style I like. A pretty good book to use in an educational setting - classroom or school library.

About the book: Henry’s discovery of the many ways he can be kind will inspire young readers to use the simple mindfulness practices taught in this book to develop their own capacities for kindness.

Ms. Snowden and her class practice sending kind thoughts to the people they love, and they launch a class Kindness Project. There is only one problem: Henry can’t think of one kind thing he has done. Declaring that kindness is stupid, he stomps to the classroom door on the verge of tears, but his classmates save the day by reminding him of the kind things he has done for each of them.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and I was not compensated.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Candlewick Christmas lovelies: Little Christmas Tree by Jessica Courtney-Tickle and Coming Home by Mchael Morpurgo [Review & Giveaway US/CANADA 2 winners]

One would think by the design and titles of these two books that they are specifically designed for Christmas time or celebration. Not so. These are focused on the natural world and the beauty of it. Yet these would make lovely gifts to bestow on some child during this wintery season. They can be enjoyed throughout the winter season.

Little Christmas Tree by Jessica Courtney-Tickle (Big Picture Press an imprint of Candlewick Press)

My thoughts:  This is such a sweet book. It is a large sturdy board book that is safe in little hands. Yet it is designed to enthrall the little ones. There are fascinating lift-the-flap opportunities and when you lift a flap you discover an object or a creature. It is nice that the flaps' underside has the word for what you discover. Some of the flaps are very small and you must look closely to discover them all. Nice!

The book is lovely with the woodland illustrations and creatures highlighted with touches of silver embossing. Lends a nice pretty touch. I like that the tree remains in the forest. Uncut. Undecorated except with the glitter of snow and ice alight from the light of Moon or Sun. Lovely.

The story is a poem and reads very nicely with good cadence and rhyme. Love it because this method of story telling captures the child's imagination, ensures later recall, and promotes a love of poetry.

I highly recommend this as a Winter-Season book and not simply a Christmas  book. Be sure you look for this one.

About the book: One white and snowy night, a little Christmas tree stands alone in the forest. Everything is white and lifeless. As the night goes on, there are signs of life: an orange fox, a red-breasted robin, a cloud of fireflies. By the end of the book, the little Christmas tree is transformed by nature. Another glorious lift-the-flap exploration of nature in the same series as Little Tree and Little Honeybee.

Coming Home  by Michael Morpurgo and Kerry Hyndman (Candlewick Press)

My thoughts:  The author uses free verse and words that convey an urgency and impending danger. A longing. A compelling sense and need to get to a destination. The artist beautifully conveys this urgency and danger in the robin's journey through storms, over mountains and rivers and oceans, battling predatory birds, and his own weariness in the action packed illustrations.

A beautifully told story and one that will implant well in the mind of a young child the migratory journey that birds - not just this single robin - face as they move across this globe we call Earth.

This is a superb book for a child to have to read over and over during the cold, snowy days of Winter. He will be able to begin understand the wee bird's plight and yet also grasp the innate destiny that is the bird's to move from place to place in his migratory journey.

At the end of his journey, the robin meets his mate. We are not told why the mate is already there or if the mate never migrated. Perhaps that is a tale for another day.

About the book: A plucky little robin sets out on an epic journey. Through dark forests, driving rain, clapping thunder and flashing lightning. Across frozen wastes, huge mountains and stormy seas he flies. And all the while he's dreaming of home. Of her. But will he ever get there? Find out in this wonderfully lyrical Christmas story from the brilliant Michael Morpurgo, with stunning illustrations by Kerry Hyndman.

A Christmas gift perfect choice

2 Winners each Win 2 Books
Begins November 16
Ends December 2 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA/CANADA addresses only.
NO P.O. BOXES, please!

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of the two books to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Winners' copies are provided and mailed by Candlewick Press to the winner.

God Bless You and Good Night Touch and Feel By Hannah Hall Published by Thomas Nelson

My thoughts:  This is a charming board book to read as you tuck your toddler into bed for the evening and to focus a bit on God in the process. Sweet mommy and baby animals get ready for bed and think about their happy day that has just passed.

The "Touch and Feel" qualities in this book are minimal with some aspects being more prominent than others. It does give the little one something to seek out and find on the pages.

The little rhymes are sweet and are good reminders to blessings in the little one's life.

A nice little book.

About the book: God Bless You and Good Night is now available as a touch-and-feel book! This
beloved bedtime classic has touched more than 315,000 families, and this touch-and-feel edition offers even more fun as little ones prepare for bed.

Bedtime can be a precious time of connection for you and your little one. Enjoy those snuggly moments together as you read this classic bedtime book while exploring all the fun touch-and-feel elements, from the polar bear's soft fur to the elephant's leathery skin to the silky grass of the African grasslands.

In God Bless You and Good Night Touch and Feel, sleepy little ones are reminded of God’s blessings and how much they are loved. The delightful rhyming story takes readers through several scenes of snuggly animals who are getting ready for bed from putting on pj's, brushing teeth, and saying good-night prayers. Now with added touch-and-feel elements, children can engage with the story even more. God Bless You and Good Night Touch and Feel will be a favorite part of the bedtime ritual for parents and children.

Whether for a baby shower or birthday, or as a heart-melting way to surprise the grandparents-to-be, God Bless You and Good Night Touch and Feel is the perfect touch for any celebration.

DISCLOSURE: I receive a complimentary copy to review from the BookLook Blogger Review program on behalf of the publisher, Tommy Nelson. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

My Heart Belongs In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania by Murray Pura [Review & Giveaway - USA 3 winners]

My thoughts: Having previously read Murray Pura's wonderful writing on several occasions, I was looking forward to how he would approach a "My Heart Belongs...." story and even more so how he would handle the Civil War battle in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

I found the leading lady in this story, Clarissa Avery Ross, a bit of a character and frankly did not like her flippant attitude about much of life and especially how she interacted with the young men in her life. Her role as a member of the Underground Railroad helping escaped slaves in their journey to freedom was admirable and yet it, too, was complicated by her personality or attitude. Blame it on her "flaming red hair" or not. I didn't care for it. That doesn't mean her behavior and personality was not suited it simply means I didn't care for it.

How valid it was to the time period? I will leave that to the experts and those who research and delve into whatever records exist that narrate how young ladies "comported" themselves in the 1860s in America.

As the Civil War (or whatever other name one wishes to give this American war) moves into Pennsylvania, Clarissa's character or behavior changes. This is definitely in keeping with reality as when confronted with the very real prospects of war in your own backyard, and then the actual experience of said battles, a frivolous young lady can take on a definite transformation and become quite serious in attitude and behavior. This happens to Clarissa.

Mr. Pura expertly handles the workings of the Underground Railroad and the approach of the Confederate army on Gettysburg and the battle fought at that locale. In great detail, he paints word pictures that place the reader in the middle of the battles. He shows the fierceness of war. He describes the compassionate cessation of conflict while they comb the battlefield for survivors - Northern and Southern.

An interesting read. A good amount of history. A clean romance.

About the Book: When War Reaches Clarissa’s Back Door, the Trustworthy Become Even Fewer

Journey into Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, of 1863 where Clarissa Avery Ross lives a full life. By day she is the daughter of a respectable shoemaker being courted by seminary student Kyle Forrester. But by night she is a conductor on the Underground Railroad, working with a mysterious man called Liberty. She would like to share her work with Kyle, but he refuses to enlist when the war breaks out. How can she remain true to a man being labeled a coward? When the war comes to her back door in an epic battle, the greatest challenges to her faith and love are yet to come.
3 Winners, 1 Copy Each
Begins November 15
Ends December 5 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Barbour Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Winners' copies are provided and shipped to the winner by Barbour Publishing.

Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year curated by Fiona Waters & illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

My thoughts:  From little two or three line rhymes to famed poetry such as Robert Frost's "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening" or the poems of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sing A Song of Seasons is a delight. With illustrations from the skilled hand of Frann Presto-Gannon the book presents as a volume to cherish for years of reading poetry through the year.

The book is quite large  and hefty which precludes very young children holding. However, it is nicely sized for lap-holding and read-aloud times. The monthly collections of poems are numbered by the day, an arrangement that makes for easy reading on a regular basis. Indexed nicely in the back for looking up favorites.

What a wonderful pairing - the seasons and poetry. There is so much in Sing A Song of Seasons that evokes the seasons - wind, sun, snow, ice - that the beautiful properties of nature expressed in the poetic phrase or artistic drawing simply capture the reader's rapt attention. The reader will gain a better grasp of what the poems are saying through the illustrations, likewise the illustrations will have beautifully descriptive words expressed in the poems that help the viewer see more of the artistic details.

I highly recommend this beautiful book for the home where the poetic word is enjoyed, where the love of seasonal charm and beauty is appreciated, and where a good read-aloud session is pleasure indeed.

About the book: Sing a Song of Seasons is a lavishly illustrated collection of 366 nature poems — one for every day of the year. Filled with familiar favorites and new discoveries written by a wide variety of poets, including William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, John Updike, Langston Hughes, N. M. Bodecker, Okamoto Kanoko, and many more, this is the perfect book for children (and grown-ups!) to share at the beginning or the end of the day.

Sing a Song of Seasons: A Nature Poem for Each Day of the Year
by Fiona Waters (Editor), Frann Preston-Gannon (Illustrator)

Read a few pages by clicking here to access Google books. Buy it here

A Christmas gift perfect choice

1 Winner receives 1 copy of book
Begins November 14
Ends December 3 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA and CANADA addresses
NO P.O. BOXES, Please!
a Rafflecopter giveaway 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press on behalf of Nosy Crow Publishing an imprint of Candlewick to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped by the publisher directly to the winner.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Beloved: 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan Publishing [Review & Giveaway - USA/Canada ends Nov. 21]

ISBN: 9780310762775 | Hardcover | $15.99
Buy on Amazon - click here
My thoughts:  This is an absolutely beautiful book and such a pleasure to behold. Compact yet full of short, enriching readings that will give your young woman (daughter, grand-girl, neighbor, niece) that important boost to help her see just how special she is to God. How beloved she is.

Each reading has a few blank lines at the end where your young woman can record her thoughts, feelings of being blessed or beloved, her insecurities, her feelings of strength, her fears, her challenges, her requests to God. Whatever!

Unabashedly feminine with the pinks and spots of gold this book is a beauty to behold. Just as your young woman is a beauty to behold.

The focus is girls and women in the Bible; and the well known ladies in the Bible are featured as well as those obscure, barely mentioned which lends credence to the value and purpose of each and every one of them. They are in the Bible. They are valued by God. Your young lady is valued of God as well. Inspire her to see her value in this world and especially to God.

About the book: Young women receive so many negative messages in today’s society. Counteract that with Beloved, a topical 365-day devotional that will inspire them with positive role models from Scripture. Each day features an easy-to-read, relevant devotion paired with a scripture verse about a biblical girl or woman, such as Ruth, Esther, Mary, or Abigail. Every page speaks to the pressures and changes girls face, giving them real-world applications to find God in their hearts and in their lives.

Relationships, inner beauty, and chasing your dreams are all topics on the top of a teen girl’s list. So give them great Biblical role models to admire as they grow and understand who they are. Beloved is a topical devotional that uses the inspiring stories of girls and women in the Bible—such as Ruth, Esther, Mary, and Abigail—to encourage faith and confidence in today’s young women. Perfect for everyday use, Beloved will resonate with girls searching for truth and guidance.

Find it and buy it: 

Begins November 13
Ends November 21 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to Continental USA and CANADA 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 on the same blog, 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.

Ellie Claire journals: Faith & Lettering, The Illustrated Word, and Illuminate Your Story

I had no idea how lovely these journals were till I actually had them in my hands and they are simply  Beautiful! The three interactive journals are listed below with some observations of mine on each of them. Personally, I am not one that takes pen to paper and journals. I admire anyone who does this and see great value in it for them individually at the moment they journal and then in the future for themselves or perhaps for their family in later years. Journaling has tremendous historic value.

These journals not only provide a beautiful source in which you can record your thoughts, but they have instructive value in forms of art that will help develop the artist hiding inside of you.

Faith & Lettering

This beautiful cover is embossed and has gold gilt emphasizing the letters and designs. The touch-feel of the embossing is luxurious. The very nice binding begs for you to pick up this journal and look through it. When you do, you'll see opportunities to grow your skill at creating artistic lettering and sketching that you color to release or develop your love of creativity. 

The paper is very nice and the space for writing whatever your heart desires is adequate and spaced nicely between opportunities to be creative.

This journal has a more modern look and design as do the art and lettering styles. A super gift for yourself or someone you know that journals or is a budding artist. And as for the actual writing you might do..... Well on one page it has the verse beautifully lettered..... "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 1:4 and next to that is a blank page. What an opportunity to bare your heart on that page.

Illuminate Your Story

This journal is a little smaller than the other two in the group. The quality is superb and sturdy. There is even a little elastic band to help hold your place. What is so special, though, is the opportunity to have excellently guided directions and examples of beautiful illuminated lettering such as was used hundreds of years ago to decorate Holy Scripture.

The art of Scripture Illumination such as is featured in this journal is an almost lost art. The Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC has some beautiful manuscripts that were the inspiration for this journal. There is even a short History of Illuminated Letters at the beginning of the journal.

Tucked into the back cover of the journal is a little "Keepsake" pocket. What would you tuck away inside it? A note from a beloved spouse? A child's note attesting to his or her accepting Christ into their heart?

Your story can be written within these pages and your skill developed as you draw and color your letter to illuminate it. The technique to create your own illuminated letters is clearly given with practice areas in the journal. When pages for you to write begin, there is a quote - sometimes Scripture and sometimes from an individual. These are good for getting those thoughts flowing from your pen.

Barnes & Noble:

The Illustrated Word: An Illuminated Bible Coloring Journal

The cover of this journal is stunning. The embossed effect of the flowers and scrolls is expertly and meticulously done. The binding is quality through and through with high end paper.

The cover is embossed and texturized with gold foil and the colors of the exquisite art bright yet in excellent taste. Again the Museum of the Bible has lent beauty to this book with the use of the forty illustrations from manuscripts from hundreds of years ago. Each of these illustrations is titled and sourced.

This is a journal in which you can write and your art would be the coloring of pages such as the "I Am God" shown below. A beautiful book and an opportunity to see small bits of beautiful, ancient art that graced ancient manuscripts.

Barnes & Noble:

I see these as wonderful gifts for special people in your life. Or perhaps one is especially appealing to you.

DISCLOSURE: I received these 3 journals from Worthy Publishing on behalf of Ellie Claire to facilitate this review. Opinions are solely my own and are freely given.