Saturday, March 30, 2019

Who is Afraid of Little Wolf? by Yayo Kawamura [Review]

ISBN: 978-3791373812
Buy it on Amazon
My thoughts:  The story is charming. The illustrations cute with nice bold strokes of black edging the drawings and bold colors. The little forest characters just simply fun to watch as they frolic across the pages of this sturdy board book.

Designed and written for the child ages 2-5, the board book presents a sweet little story of a wolf who can't find someone to play with. Now for any parent who has had a child come in from play time or from school saying, "No one would play with me" and watch them crestfallen, hurt, and perhaps crying this story will resonate. No matter the reason for the ostracism. It hurts.

The premise or aim as I see it for this story is to help overcome preconceived notions about prejudices in the selection of those with whom we associate. That is excellent! I applaud it.


Using the big bad wolf - even though in this story he is "Little Wolf" - as the one no one will play with is perhaps missing the mark. I don't fault the story. I just think that we parents teach our children that there are certain places and people we avoid. Not prejudicial and finding fault with people because of who they are racially, politically, ethically, religiously. But we simply teach our children that there are dangers that they avoid. And any self-respecting mama of a small critter will teach her little one that "small critter eating wolves" are to be avoided.

Now I am still going to share this adorable book with my newest family member - a precious great-grandson. I still think it is a good choice. I just think there was a slight error in which forest animal was the one to be avoided.
About the book: An enchanting board book that follows Little Wolf as he searches for someone to play with and carries a simple yet profound message about prejudice and preconceived notions.

Little Wolf is bored, and so he asks some other animals to play. But no one wants to join him--not the squirrel, nor the bunny, nor the fox. Their parents have told them not to play with wolves. But when Little Wolf meets a bee, she is brave enough to play and the two have a great time. The other animals see there's nothing to be afraid of and decide to join in. With bold colors and appealing characters this book packs a powerful lesson about overcoming prejudices and not judging someone before you know them.

YAYO KAWAMURA is a Berlin-based author and illustrator of children's books.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone, and are freely given.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Second Sky by Patrick Guest & illustrated by Jonathan Bentley from Eerdmans Publishing

ISBN: 9780802855206
Buy it on Amazon
My thoughts:  Such a sweet and  beautiful book for your little ones. The book is awash in shades of blue which is so lovely. Just "what" does the color blue do for us?
Blue: It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven. Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect.
With that in mind I reread the book about little penguin's desire to fly. He wants to reach the sky. He wants to soar. He wants freedom. So he tries to run, waddle, leap, plunge, reach out. It all fails.


He tumbles into the sea. The depths. The glories. The majesty of the sea. He realizes he IS flying. He IS soaring. He has reached a different sky. One he is at home in and for which he is fitted.

And through this all he is awash in the calming, beautiful blues of sky and sea.

A lovely book.

About the book: The first thing Gilbert sees when he hatches from his egg is the sky. It is love at first sight and from that moment on Gilbert longs to fly like other birds.

But Penguins don’t fly, they waddle, and so begins Gilbert's quest to find his place in the world.

Great things happen when you reach for the sky.

~|~ GIVEAWAY ~|~
Begins March 28
Ends April 22 at 12:01 a.m. EDT.
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Eerdmans Young Readers (Eerdmans Publishing) to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone, and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by the publisher.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Open-Door Living: Easy Ways to Share the Gift of Hospitality by Jen Schmidt

ISBN: 9781535934435
Buy on Amazon

Buy it on
My thoughts:  Hospitality is tricky business. Often the heart is willing but the pride says, "I don't have an adequate home" or "I don't know how to entertain guests" or "I am afraid I won't measure up to what others are doing." Our inadequacies are sometimes in our mind, but we are still vulnerable.

This lovely little book establishes the key to entertaining which is to open the door of your heart and welcome your guests. And the true key is not to feel like you are an "entertainer" but that you are giving of your personal "gift of hospitality." You take what you have and share it with love - a love that is Christ given.

There are tips for your table and your decorations. Even the use of a simple chalk board to write a welcome message. There are a few recipes for you to try and then incorporate into a menu for your guests.

To whom will you open your door? Sometimes we are even hesitant to open it to family. But an open door gives opportunities to grow personally, share our faith, and be a blessing in someone's life.

I like this little book and I think it provides just enough information and guidance to aid in your journey to have an open door and be hospitable to your neighbors, your family, your church acquaintances. Remember, the stranger, too, needs your gift shared.

About the book: Would you like to replace the expectations and anxiety of hosting people in your home with creative encouragement and easy ways to host others, all while pointing them to Christ? In Open-Door Living, Jen Schmidt helps you see that this is much easier than you think. She starts with an invitation to the heart of hospitality, then shares her best practical ideas to remove stress from four aspects of hosting: food, cleaning, atmosphere, and connection. Featuring beautiful graphics and devotional reflections, Open-Door Living will give you the confidence you need to share the gift of your home.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone, and are freely given.

CICINIO Clip Earrings for Women Flower Shape Fashion Gold Plated Non Pierced Earrings (Ships FREE with Amazon Prime)

These lovely clip earrings are tiny and have just the right amount of "bling." 

Gold-plated with glistening tiny stones, the little hoops dangle and enhance one's look quite nicely. 

Another great option is that the clip earring is an adjustable "screw" that makes wearing so comfortable. A feature you rarely see in today's jewelry. 

Check it out - click here

DISCLOSURE: This is an affiliate and/or sponsored post which means I received the product either at no cost or highly discounted and if orders are placed using the link here I may receive an affiliate commission.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck (New York Times Best Selling Author) [Giveaway]

My thoughts:  I have come to treasure the opportunity to read a story by Rachel Hauck. Yes, some of her books are quite light hearted and fun and others have deeper themes and more "meat" to them. The Memory House falls into the second category. While not a deep, highly complex story, it resonates in the reader's heart and mind compelling continued page-turning.

Having lived in North Carolina all my life and seen lovely architecture from the same period that the house in Memory House was built, I can mentally visualize it and that lends charm and interest to the story.

You have two stories in one book and yet they are intertwined in various ways. Complexities of emotionally derived amnesia are one. Similarities of circumstances are another. And yet these two stories are separate and unique.

As the "book blurb" indicates, Beck Holiday is recipient of an unexpected wind-fall inheritance - a wonderful house and a nice stash of cash. Ah..... that's a dream come true, isn't it? But is it the answer to Beck's problems? A solution to her dilemma?

The characters throughout the book capture the reader's heart for their flaws and failures, their achievements and goals, their loves and cares. And yes, their charm. When our male protagonist enters the scene, he also enters our heart with his unabated caring, his stick-to-itness, his old and growing love for Beck Holiday. We all need a Bruno Endicott in our lives.

And it would be wonderful if somewhere along the way we had an Everleigh Applegate as a neighbor, a fellow church member, a friend.

I highly recommend this beautifully written story.

About the book: Embracing the future means remembering the past . . .

When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that, either.

Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.

Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House.

About the author: Rachel Hauck is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pet and writes from her ivory tower.

You don't want to miss this one!

Begins March 23
Ends April 19 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway 


Here is another Blog Tour #giveaway you can enter. Click image to access Read With Audra's Rafflecopter Widget.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone, and are freely given. Giveaway is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Pop-Up Shakespeare: Every Play and Poem in Pop-up 3-D by The Reduced Shakespeare Co., Austin Tichenor and Reed Martin, illustrated by Jennie Maizels [Review & Giveaway]

Hardcover ~ ISBN: 9780763698744
Buy it on Amazon
My thoughts:  Usually students don't begin their journey into the works of William Shakespeare until their high school years. Occasionally a little before. So the entrance into children's genre of picture books - especially pop-up books - is quite different.

True the young readers (middle elementary upwards) won't grasp the nuances of the works until they are older, but much can be gleaned from his writings and that gleaning can plant seeds to further explore and comprehend these literary gems as they mature in their reading.

Uniquely designed with front and back sided pop up the author and designer are able to include the complete works - yes, complete works. But before the actual parade of Reduced Shakespeare Company's works enters the stage, there are nuggets of information about William Shakespeare's earlier life, his family, his home. All this is told with a bit of "tongue in cheek" fun. So it is great fun to learn with these short bits of information about each play and work and it is done in such an eye-catching enjoyable way. This concise presentation is great for those beginning to learn about these classics or for a bit of memory refreshing for those beyond childhood.

Readers should keep in mind that this is a condensed or "high spot" book that will appeal to children up to about age 12. It is not meant for those who wish to savor the minute nuggets of Shakespearean wit and skill. This is a fun and entertaining way to introduce the children to the vast assortment of plays and works by Shakespeare and even perhaps begin to learn a bit of the history of the period during which they were written.

This fun book will be perfect preparation for Talk Like Shakespeare Day  on April 23.

Histories Plays are shown on this 2-page spread and the flip side of the page shows more.
Almost every spotlight of information is a lift-the-flap treasure!

This is the flip side of the Histories 2-Page spread.
Quotable Quotes are spotlighted.

About the book: Learn about all of Shakespeare's plays in one book!

Read about William Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets, and poems as you never have before in an entertaining pop-up book collaboration between the internationally known comedy troupe the Reduced Shakespeare Company and best-selling illustrator Jennie Maizels. Featuring five interactive spreads filled with dramatic pop-ups, fun foldouts, hilarious summaries, and fascinating commentaries, this is the perfect introduction to one of the world’s greatest playwrights and his enduring works.


  • All that glitters is not gold
  • The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
  • To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.
  • Brevity is the soul of wit.
  • Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.
  • This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day,Thou canst not then be false to any man.
2 winners will be chosen
Begins March 20

Ends April 24 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA and CANADA addresses only.
No P.O. Boxes & need Canadian Winner's Phone #
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone, and are freely given. Winners' copies are provided and mailed directly to the winner by Candlewick Press.

Code of Valor (Book #3 Blue Justice) by Lynette Eason

My thoughts: Opening the pages of Code of Valor you are immediately immersed in the depths of an attempted murder and a fantastic rescue. Situated on a lake where a gun shot and a plunge into the depths could end it all, Emily is in a fight for her life and a larger-than-life rescue takes place at the hands of Brady.

Emily and Brady are the main characters in this intense, fast moving, and complicated suspense. As the third book in the series, Blue Justice, the story flows beautifully bringing into play favorite characters from the previous books and yet the reader is not lost if they never read the earlier adventures.

Financial crimes are at the core of this tale and it is difficult to determine just who the culprit is. Who the gains? Who is steering this intense drive to find a sunken boat and the treasure that is on it? Sounds like a pirate tale. But it isn't. This is a modern story. 

Good does overcome the evil. The bad guys are stopped. But it takes a long and convoluted path to reach this ending. And the ending is dynamite.

Disclosure: I won a copy in the Early Reviewers program. A review is appreciated though not required. Opinions are mine, alone.

About the book: What Detective Brady St. John really needs is a relaxing vacation. Unfortunately, just as the sun is setting on his second day at a friend's cabin on Lake Henley, he hears a scream and races to rescue a woman from her would-be killer. When the killer escapes only to return to finish the job, Brady vows to utilize all of his many resources to keep her safe—and catch those who would see her dead.

Financial crimes investigator Emily Chastain doesn't trust many people. And even though she let the detective who saved her life in on a few pertinent facts about why she was being attacked, there are some things you just don't share with a stranger. Little does she suspect that the secret she is keeping just might get them both killed.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Wilderness: Earth's Amazing Habitats by Mia Cassany and illustrated by Marcos Navarro

ISBN: 9783791373720
Buy it on Amazon

Hardcover - 48 pages - 11"x14"
My thoughts:  Just look at the cover! Can you even imagine being in a dark, dense jungle and glimpsing those eyes peering at you from the lush hiding  place? The illustrations capture the exotic creatures and habitats that exist in our beautiful World.

The illustrations are frankly quite "wild" and not realistic. They are different and somewhat surreal. They are boldly colorful and fun.

Inside the front pages is a two-page spread map showing the locations of each of the habitats featured. Then the pages drift through each of these telling about the habitat and the special critters and plants found in each.

The "story" doesn't end there, though. At the back of the book there is a picture of each habitat's two-page spread and each critter is labeled and there is a brief write up about the creatures.

A good and fun method to teach our beautiful world's wonders.

Written for children ages 6-9, it will bring entertainment as well as education into their reading time. They will have fun searching through the pictures for the various animals and plants.

About the book: Journeying the pages of this oversize book, young readers will go to the planet's wild regions, including forests, jungles, tundras, and deserts to discover the animals that call it home.

This captivating book brings the natural world into sharp focus. Beautifully colored and intricately detailed illustrations depict places as exotic and wide-ranging as Senegal's Niokolo-Koba National Park, Russia's Sikhote-Alin mountain range, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka, Daintree National Park in Australia, the Mexican desert, and China's bamboo forests. The animals that live in these remote places, cleverly hidden in the trees, plants, and flowers, create a marvelous challenge for young readers to find and identify. Each spread contains more than twenty different species including birds, snakes, frogs, iguanas, leopards, tigers, gorillas, pandas, and wolves. The back of the book is filled with additional information about the animals and their habitats. Young readers will find much to discover, explore, and learn in this absorbing celebration of our planet and the amazing creatures we share it with.

About the author: MIA CASSANY is the author of numerous books for children including Atlas of Imaginary Places and Great Ports of the World (both by Prestel). She is the co-founder of Mosquito Books. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.

MARCUS NAVARRO is an illustrator living in Spain. This is his first book.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Great LOW PRICE on Amazon for LEGO duplo "My First Puzzle Pets"

Super duper deal on Amazon
Ideal for tucking away for special gifting later or for that little one right now!
Regularly $9.99 it is NOW $5.99 
This is an Amazon affiliate post. Your purchase may help support Chat With Vera.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Explorer Academy's The Falcon's Feather - Nat Geo's Groundbreaking Middle Grade Fiction Series Continues [Giveaway]

The Falcon's Feather (Explorer Academy #2) 

Launch date March 19 

National Geographic Kids Books is pleased to announce the upcoming release of the second book in the groundbreaking Explorer Academy series published by their fiction imprint, Under the Stars— The Falcon’s Feather by Trudi Trueit.   Global adventures, danger and mystery combined with fascinating real-world science, codebreaking, and technology makes The Falcon’s Feather a perfect summer reading pick for book lovers and reluctant readers alike.

"This exciting, fast paced, far-flung story is full of science facts and James Bond–like gadgets, accompanied by colored illustrations. The ending is guaranteed to keep readers eager for the next series installment.”—Booklist review of The Falcon’s Feather

Inspired by the awe-inspiring work and real adventures of National Geographic Explorers, the second title in the Explorer Academy series invites readers to board the ship Orion, where Cruz and his friends experience cool science, cutting-edge technology, and real expeditions (including an up-close encounter with whales). Explorer Academy: The Falcon’s Feather  immerses readers in a captivating tale of intrigue and fast-paced action as the team navigates the world of Explorer Academy while also keeping up with schoolwork and trying to solve the second piece of a puzzle that may have cost Cruz’s mother her life. A sneak peak of Chapter One of The Falcon’s Feather can be read here.

This thrilling global mission has been hailed by J.J. Abrams (director of “Star Trek” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) as “a fun, exciting and action-packed ride that kids will love” and James Cameron, acclaimed filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence says the Explorer Academy series “Inspires the next generation of curious kids to go out into our world and discover something unexpected.” Whether it is cracking hidden codes or reaching the northernmost point of human civilization, The Falcon’s Feather will have readers on the edge of their seats to the final page.

About Explorer Academy Book 2: The Falcon’s Feather by Trudi Trueit (National Geographic Kids; March 19, 2019; ISBN: 978-1426-33304-0; US$16.99/CAN$19.99; Hardcover; 208 pages)

ISBN: 978-1426333040
Buy it on Amazon
In the exciting follow-up to The Nebula Secret in the 7-book Explorer Academy series, Cruz, Sailor, and Emmett, along with their new ally Bryndis, embark on their first globe-trotting mission aboard the ship Orion. Cruz jumps right back into school and starts using the latest technology in submersible underwater dives but is soon reminded of the dangers of exploration when his equipment fails and he almost drowns. Determined to keep his eyes on the prize, Cruz sneaks away to try to find answers, but unknowingly lures his friends into bigger trouble. When a friend of Cruz's mom meets an untimely end, Cruz's luck really seems about to run out and the questions multiply. What does the message mean? Where will it lead? Who is following him? And why?

For more adventures with Cruz and his fellow explorers, fans can head to to watch the Explorer Academy animated series “Brain Freeze,” play Explorer Academy-inspired games, meet National Geographic Explorers, find the latest updates on The Falcon’s Feather upcoming national book tour and discover the Facts Behind the Fiction.

Read the first chapter The Falcon's Feather - click here

About the Author and Contributors:

Author Trudi Trueit is a gifted storyteller for middle-grade audiences. She has written more than 100 books for young readers, both fiction and nonfiction, including The Sister Solution, Stealing Popular and the Secrets of a Lab Rat series. Trueit lives in Everett, Washington. Interior illustrator Scott Plumbe is an award-winning illustrator, designer and fine artist whose work has appeared in books, magazines, games, interpretive centers and more. When not traveling the world, he lives in Vancouver, Canada. 

Cover illustrator Antonio Javier Caparo is an illustrator, graphic designer and graphic novel artist whose work regularly appears in magazines and books in the U.S., Europe and South America. Born in Cuba, Caparo currently lives in Montreal, Canada.

Dr. Gareth Moore is the code master for the Explorer Academy franchise and author of over 100 best-selling international puzzle and brain-training titles. He lives in London, England, with his wife and son.

Begins March 19
Ends April 20 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of both books to aid in posting this book launch spotlight. Winner's copies are provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or publicist.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Noah and His Friends (Board book) by Patricia A. Pingry & illustrated by Joseph Cowman

Buy it on Amazon
My thoughts:  When I picked up this little gem of a book, I was just delighted. The "heft" is just right for those little hands to hold and they will feel that they have a "big book" of stories in their hands without being overwhelmed. The cover is softly padded and the corners rounded. The cover and board pages will hold up to much loving and much reading.

The assorted Bible stories include: Noah, Moses and Pharaoh, David and Goliath, Jonah and the Big Fish, Daniel and the Lions, and Esther Throws a Party. These Old Testament stories each cover four pages in the book, have a key thought, a short prayer, and a Bible verse. These give opportunities for little ones to learn of God's love, care, and protection.

The illustrations are very good and quite appealing capturing the attention of the young readers with their engaging expressions and actions.

Parents can begin reading these stories to preschoolers and the book is appropriate for beginning readers once they become fairly independent.

I highly recommend this delightful Bible storybook.

About the book: This classic collection will introduce children to six favorite, age-appropriate Old Testament Bible stories, including Noah and the ark, David and Goliath, and the story of Esther. Each story is told in fewer than 250 simple words that toddlers can understand and concludes with a one-sentence summary, a one-sentence prayer, and a short Bible verse. The bright artwork focuses on the land, the people, and the natural world of the Old Testament.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of this book. A review was not requested. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Creation of Central Park by Ashley Benham Yazdani & Birds by Carme Lemniscates [Review & 2-winner Giveaway USA/CANADA]

Birds by Carme Lemniscates

ISBN: 9781536201789
My thoughts:  Simple illustrations created with a full palette of colors both soft and bold tell the simple story of the lovely creature that is the "Bird." Not detailed or like a study in birds of the world, it simply introduces the creatures for what they are to us - small, large, sweet sounding or harsh, friendly or strident. An assortment of creatures is the whole of the bird creation.

And then the author and artist takes the young reader on an emotional journey with the beautiful birds when the story states that "nearly all like to have conversations." Have you ever thought of their chirping and tweets as a conversation? Surely that is exactly what it is.

And then to us and our feelings and needs.... "A birds song is like the loving words of a friend." "A happy song that greets us every morning."

This is a sweet book and will be a child-pleaser. Check it out at your favorite library or perhaps you'd like to purchase a copy for keeps.

About the book: Brilliant graphic illustrations and a gentle, thought-provoking text pay homage to birds and their wonder-inspiring ways.

Birds come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They like to chat with one another as they fly high and low in the sky. Birds make music, with songs that are like the loving words of a friend, and we are lucky enough to enjoy those sweet melodies. But best of all, birds are capable of flying wherever they please — they just let their hearts guide them. And we can do that, too, if we use our imaginations. In a lyrical ode to our winged friends, the creator of Trees turns her eye to a diverse class of creatures that has much to teach about transcending the barriers that lie between us.

A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park by Ashley Benham Yazdani

ISBN: 9780763696955
My thoughts: Using picture books to teach and help young minds and hearts grow a love for our world and its beauty is a wonderful concept. This lovely and fun-to-read book shows how New York City's Central Park was created.

It opens the door for discussion of land use and the need for us to  have green spaces around us. The book doesn't really get into those topics, but they are between the lines.

So it starts out by identifying the problem earlier settlers of New York had created by removal of all the trees from an area and by building so many structures. They decided to hold a contest for someone to take a particularly blighted area and design a lovely green park for the New York residents to use.

I found the information quite interesting in the manner that the winner's design was used and how it utilized the types of plants to create illusions. They didn't just plant trees, bushes, flowers, and grass. They created a varied area with a host of architecture in the bridges designs. The provided water ares - pond, stream - and walk areas as well as carriage areas. They reintroduced squirrels.

I've never seen Central Park but I see how invaluable this spot of green in a high rise brick and mortar city would be to the physical and emotional health of the people.

I am thankful for parks and I feel certain the folks in New York are, too.

About the book: How did Central Park become a vibrant gem in the heart of New York City? Follow the visionaries behind the plan as it springs to green life.

In 1858, New York City was growing so fast that new roads and tall buildings threatened to swallow up the remaining open space. The people needed a green place to be — a park with ponds to row on and paths for wandering through trees and over bridges. When a citywide contest solicited plans for creating a park out of barren swampland, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted put their heads together to create the winning design, and the hard work of making their plans a reality began. By winter, the lake opened for skating. By the next summer, the waterside woodland known as the Ramble opened for all to enjoy. Meanwhile, sculptors, stone masons, and master gardeners joined in to construct thirty-four unique bridges, along with fountains, pagodas, and band shells, making New York's Central Park a green gift to everyone. Included in the end matter are bios of Vaux and Olmsted, a bibliography, and engaging factual snippets.

2 winners win both books
Begins March 15
Ends April 10 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA and CANADA addresses
No P.O. Boxes - Phone # for Canada winners
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of each book to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copies are provided and mailed/shipped directly to the winner by Candlewick.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Rabbit & Bear: Rabbit's Bad Habits by Julian Gough & Jim Field

My thoughts: Sized just right for young readers to have a "real book" that they can read, this volume is the first of a series about Rabbit and Bear and the series holds promise for popular "chapter books" (though it isn't divided into chapters).

The illustrations are spot-on attention grabbing for these young readers and even young reader-listeners.

Its Winter and Bear awakes from hibernation and is hungry but her food is missing. So bear makes a snowman.

At this point Rabbit enters the story since the snowman rolls down the hill in an "avalanche" and covers Rabbits hole in the ground. Arguments or discussions ensue but this rather tense relationship ultimately blossoms into a sweet friendship.

In the meantime, their discussion involves "poo." Rather..... eating poo. Really?

Now I realize I'm a bit of old school and a Southern lady with quirks of my own, but to entertain the subject of poo in a children's book and especially the eating of poo is really quite out of sync in my opinion. I know there is a bounty of books that focus on the subject of poo and if one wishes to acquire these, that is one's choice.

Now about the subject of this particular rabbit eating his own poo. As it turns out, there is firm truth or scientific fact behind this practice of rabbits. I know we're not going to change the rabbits from doing what they are designed to do, I just feel the presentation of this information a bit heavy and out of place in this form of children's book.

Now we have to address the third character in the book - the Wolf. He wants to eat Rabbit and so the chase ensues. This is where the friendship between Rabbit and Bear really takes root. Bear comes to the rescue of Rabbit and saves him from being dinner for Wolf.

A happy ending and a really cute book. I'd rate it 5-star for design, illustrations, and overall story. But a 3-star for the inclusion (heavily) of eating poo. Hence a 4-star overall rating. I look forward to future releases in the Rabbit and Bear series; and if the end pages map of the territory is any indication, the series will be a lot of interest and fun.

About the book: Avalanches, snowmen, a hungry wolf…and more!

When Bear wakes up early from her hibernation, she decides to build a snowman. Her grumpy neighbor, Rabbit, decides to build an even better one. Rabbit & Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits is full of laugh-out-loud moments and chronicles the forming of an unlikely friendship. With illustrations throughout, this chapter book is perfect for middle grade readers and is sure to become a fun favorite on any kid’s bookshelf.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

You Are Light by Aaron Becker [Review & 2-winner Giveaway US/CANADA]

It is such a joy to share the books reviewed here on Chat With Vera with a local library, a homeschool family, a neighbor, and especially a special Great-grandbaby. His dear mother has reviewed You Are Light for us after sharing it with this sweet little one. Her review is especially pertinent as she is an artist and a superb professional photographer.

We recently received this lovely book from a family member and I must say, the gift was perfectly timed. It was the end of a long day and we were on the way home when our little one was getting fussy in his carseat. I climbed into the back seat and pulled out this beautifully crafted book that describes color and light. The book is a dynamic tool that changes when you look down upon it from above versus holding it up to the window to let the light shine through the little circular panes.

The welcome distraction became an exploration in the color wheel and will likely spark deeper conversations into the cycle of water, sun and their effects on the earth’s environment when he’s old enough to understand. While the author stays rooted in the scientific explanation of how our climate works, he also introduces ideas of blending colors and the concept that we all have a special light within each of us.

This book could be an excellent starting point for many conversations and questions with your young one no matter their age. If you need a simple distraction in the car, want to delve into the mysteries that govern our physical world or would like to explore the artistic side of color and light, this book is definitely one to bring along!         ———R. Roddenberry-Smith
ISBN: 9781536201154
Candlewick Studio
Buy on Amazon

About the book: With a wondrously simple die-cut book, the Caldecott Honor–winning creator of the Journey trilogy brings his talents further into the light. 

This is the light that brings the day.

Open this beautiful book to find a graphic yellow sun surrounded by a halo of bright die-cut circles. Now hold the page up to the light and enjoy the transformation as the colors in those circles glow. In an elegant, sparely narrated ode to the phenomenon of light, Aaron Becker follows as light reflects off the earth to warm our faces, draws up the sea to make the rain, feeds all the things that grow, and helps to create all the brilliant wonders of the world, including ourselves.

2 Winners 
Begins March 12
Ends April 10 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA and CANADA addresses.
No P.O. Boxes

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are those of a young mother/artist and are freely given. Giveaway copies are provided by and shipped directly to the winners by the publisher.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Wild Bios: Frida Catlo from Silver Dolphin books [Review & Giveaway - US/CANADA]

ISBN: 9781684125586
Buy it on Amazon 
My thoughts:  The concept of kiddie board books to introduce real people who are famous is a great way to begin reading biographic stories to children. The author makes it enticingly entertaining by creating characters that are animals. The biography (???) is about Frida CATlo - emphasis on CAT. So while the person is real, the animalistic twist is a quirky way to tell the story.

Now about this cute book.....

A typical board book that has charming, cute animals populating its pages. They are "peopled-cats" or cats that take on people traits. Not such a new concept in kiddie books, but perhaps it is new in kiddie books about REAL PEOPLE.

So as our real person - hmm.... kitten Frida goes about her daily activities, she has an accident and began to pursue art as a result. Lots of play-on-words in the story telling. "Time on her paws," "First paintings were paw-traits."

What the child can learn is that Frida became an artist and married an artist. Also, she lived in Mexico.

While I find the book delightful and I believe young children will enjoy the story and will, perhaps, learn about an artist, I think that the parents will get the most out of this book. I found myself chuckling as I read because of the multitude of words in "meow" version. Lots of fun for the adult reader in this one. Maybe Mom and Dad will want to read this one multiple times to the kiddies.

About the book: Wild Bios: Frida Catlo is the first title in a new series of biographies featuring well-known historical figures with a surprising twist that makes them accessible and engaging for even the youngest readers. Plus, funny puns throughout make them fun for parents to read aloud!

Frida Catlo was one purr-fect painter! Meet one of history’s greatest figures in this adorable board book with an animal twist! Famous Meowxican painter Frida Catlo was a pioneer for female artists. She always painted from the heart, even in the face of health problems and personal struggles. With hilarious puns and colorful illustrations, this book brings Frida’s legacy to life for babies and parents alike!

Begins March 8
Ends April 1 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA and CANADA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publicist on behalf of Silver Dolphin Publishing and the author to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Don't Close Your Eyes: A Silly Bedtime Story by Bob Hostetler & published by Thomas Nelson

Buy it on Amazon
My thoughts:  The artist beautifully renders twilight and deepening shadows of the evening and bedtime in shades of blue that are comforting and appealing instead of the blackness that is often scary to a small child. So a real plus for capturing this so nicely. Then the variety of animals portrayed in familiar bedtime settings is quite appealing and they are drawn with cute charm.

The story is told in rhyme that flows nicely but isn't perfect. All authors are not Robert Louis Stevenson, but many are quite good and this is a good rhyming story.

The premise is a sort of fun reverse psychology for when a child doesn't want to go to sleep and you tell them to go ahead and stay awake - don't close your eyes. Just stay in bed and don't close your eyes. Well, soon that little one will be sleeping away. Well, hopefully it works.

Let's face it. This is a charming board book with softened padded cover. And parents and kiddies can joke around about not closing your eyes all night long. The ending is quite cute and speaks of dreaming of each other. A sweet little thought with which to end the day.

Of note, this is published by Thomas Nelson Publishing (Tommy Nelson) which is a Christian publishing house. The book, however, makes no mention of Christianity, the Bible, or God. Not a problem; just that it makes the book appealing to secular audiences that want a sweet book for a little one.

About the book: Do your little ones resist going to sleep? Lull them to sleep with a fun bedtime challenge in Don’t Close Your Eyes!

Children have a lot of fun packed into a day, and they don't always want it to end. Award-winning author Bob Hostetler capitalizes on this by challenging little ones to keep their eyes open, no matter how heavy their eyelids may get. The soft rhymes about animals preparing for sleep will help them settle down until they finally close their eyes and sleep!

With silly and adorable characters whose sleepy faces will make you laugh out loud, Don’t Close Your Eyes is a unique bedtime book that your child will reach for again and again. Get ready for bed and say your prayers, but whatever you do, don't close your eyes!

DISCLOSURE: I recived a complimentary copy from the BookLook Review program on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Little ones develop fondness for fruits by enjoying cute board books that feature fruit [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

Imagine happy kiddies doing something that is really good for them! Eating good fresh fruit! And now start the process early by serving up happy "Eat 'em Ups" books in 4-fruits.

Little ones will love their cute fruit books. Perhaps it will help grow a love of the real fruit for them as well.

Eat 'em Ups Apples!

"One, Two, Three … I'll race you to that apple tree. It's apple-picking time!"
A group of young friends spend a beautiful autumn day picking apples and learning about the delicious foods that are made with their favorite fruit.  We've heard "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." So why not see if it works. Let your little one hold this cute board book and then read it to him.

Eat 'em Ups Pears!

 "Pears are the best! Just give them a chance. They'll make you want to jump up and dance!"
As a group of children walk through a farmer's market, they try to encourage their reluctant friend to give pears a try. There is one little hold-out that will "never eat a pear" but he is won over at the end of the book. Shows how reticence to try a new food can be overcome.

Eat 'em Ups Oranges!

"I want an orange, a sweet, juicy orange, an orange for orange juice…"
Kids can join a determined little girl in her quest for an orange, recounted with bright, engaging illustrations, accompanied by a rhyming narrative. Focus on joy of orange juice. Child squeezes by hand to get juice. Loves taste of the orange.

Eat 'em Ups Bananas!

"Bananas with our breakfast, bananas with our lunch, so yellow, ripe, and mellow, bananas by the bunch!"
A pair of twins celebrate their birthday by eating their favorite fruit all day long  A "favorite" fruit of the kiddies in this book. Bananas are an easy to eat, soft fruit that is a winner.

You can  sign up for free children's samples CLICK HERE

Set of 4 books for 3 Winners 
Begin March 7
Ends April 5 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA and CANADA addresses
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary set of books to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. Books will be sent directly to winners by Dover Publishing.

Gritty and Graceful: 15 Inspiring Women of the Bible by Caryn Rivadeneira

Buy it on Amazon
ISBN: 9781506452067
My thoughts:  Illustrated with bold colors and characters that exude strength of purpose, the assorted women and girls from the pages of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, come to life. The theme that permeates each story is what the woman or girl did for God and what God did for the Woman.

It is not an "if you do this, I will do this" situation. It simply states that the action of the woman/girl was meaningful and purposeful and looked upon favorably by God. It also simply states that God moves in the lives of women and does great or wonderful things.

Short, tersely written text fleshes out the basics of each story as is appropriate for young listeners or young readers.

This is a nice book to teach our young girls that they are of much value to God and can be used of God.

About the book: God gave girls grit and grace. From the very beginning, God looked to girls and women to teach, to lead, to love, to change the world.

We know because we can read their stories in the Bible. From Eve to Mary and everyone in between, the Bible is full of gritty and graceful women who faced tough circumstances with courage, toughness, intelligence, and faith.

This companion to Caryn Rivadeneira's critically acclaimed Grit and Grace: Heroic Women of the Bible combines exciting storytelling with the vivid illustrations of Sonya Abby Soekarno to bring the stories of these biblical women to life. Gritty and Graceful: 15 Inspiring Women of the Bible will inspire the gritty and graceful girls in your life to imagine their place in God's story, how they can make a difference in the world, and do great things for God.

Author Caryn Rivadeneira said that "Boiling down these women’s complex and difficult stories was hard! Each woman deserves her own book. But it was fun looking at these women, 'listening' to them and honing in on the most important (or one of the most important) things they had to say."

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from PRBytheBook on behalf of Beaming Books and the author to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The timeless fragrance of Rose is a sure pleaser in Good Earth Beauty's basic beauty products [Review & Giveaway]

A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.... 

Roses are the flower of love. In Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" the phrase "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet..." became immortalized. We all know the gentle fragrance of a beautiful rose.

Dip your nose into a bouquet of tiny or large roses and sense the loveliness. Only in nature can there be such loveliness to visualize and to sense aromatically.

And in the natural products from Good Earth Beauty, they have captured the essence of a lovely rose.



My thoughts:  Luscious hand creams make all the difference when you care about how your hands look and feel. Winter is harsh on skin and especially harsh on the hands. This lovely Rose Hand Cream is a creamy liquid that goes on smoothly and leaves my hands feeling like silk. Smooth. Luxurious. Wonderful. And Good Earth Beauty's fabulous hand creams come in a variety of different scents from which you can select.

I find that a good hand cream makes a perfect gift for birthdays or just because. I have a little corner of my closet where I stash away treasures to have available for gifting when that special occasion arises. This is a perfect addition to my stash and one I would be proud to gift.

Oh.... and did I tell you how I love, love having special items in my stash corner that I can gift my special people? Like little "gifts of love" just waiting to happen.

Oh..... did I tell you how much I absolutely LOVE the gentle rose scent? Wonderful!

Product information: Good Earth Beauty Exclusive's lavish, modern floral hand cream repairs dry skin and cuticles, leaving behind the perfectly elegant scent of rose. To heal cracked skin, you only need a small drop of this cream, which has aloe, macadamia-seed and olive oils, and shea butter. It's deceptively thin for such a hydrating formula, and it leaves hands soft and supple for the entire day.  Free of: parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors. Made in small batchesin the USA by Good Earth Beauty

Ingredients: Purified Water, Organic Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe), Sunflower Oil, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Mango Butter, Organic, Evening Primrose Oil, Emulsifying Wax, Rose Hip Oil, Chamomile, Grapeseed Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Radish Root Ferment (Natural Preservative), Proprietary Blend Of Natural Fragrance Oils. Price: $14.00  4 oz Tube Buy it Click Here


My thoughts:  This little tin is so quaint and old fashioned looking. I remember seeing years ago little tins of greasy salves that were "cure alls." Not that my family used them. If they did, I don't remember that aspect.

But this little tin is not a "cure all" it is simply a fabulous product that is soothing to one's hands, heels, elbows, arms - and I am sure - perfect for a nice massage. I used it mostly on my hands and lower arms. Using it several times a day felt so soothing.

Did you know that one of the first signs that a lady is aging or has reached "that-certain-age" are her hands? That's right. Even though we pamper our faces and necks and especially our eyes, it is our hands that tell-the-tale.

So we should be forewarned to welcome the balms, the creams, the lotions that protect, sooth, and yes, even heal our work weary hands.

I recommend you keep a little tin of the Good Earth Beauty Body Balm handy.

Product information: Super moisturizing balm - great for extra dry, chapped skin. Several scents available. All natural and Pure.  Hand made in the USA.  2 oz tin Price: $17.00 Buy it click here

Ingredients: Organic sunflower oil, organic shea butter, beeswax, organic cocoa butter, organic jojoba oil, essential oil blend

Enter the Giveaway and try to win a set of these lovely products. Or go ahead and be sure you get some for yourself by ordering from and use the DISCOUNT CODE of Skincare10 to take 10% off the price. And..... as always..... SHIPPING IS FREE for all USA orders.

Buy the Set for $25 ($31 Value)

Click Here to Purchase
1 Rose Balm & 1 Hand Cream
Begins March 6
Ends April 3 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided products to use and evaluate to facilitate a review. Opinions are solely my own and are freely given. Prize is provided by Good Earth Beauty and shipped directly to the winner.
#crueltyfreebeauty #goodearthbeauty #cleanbeauty #greenbeauty #handcream #winterskincare #parabenfree #beautyinfluencer

Monday, March 4, 2019

AMERICAN OMENS (The Coming Fight For Faith) by Travis Trasher [Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780735291782
WaterbrookMultnomah Pub.
Buy on Amazon

My thoughts:  I found the book surreal in the technological advances purported to be in place twenty years in the future. But then.... where were we with technology 20 years in the past. So much is possible and we shouldn't be surprised at what advances actually might happen.

Reading thoughts? Hearing other voices speak in our heads? Far fetched? Perhaps. I dread the possibility that these things could happen. Yes, chips can be implanted and activities traced. But some other technological advances are science fiction.

What is not science fiction is the very real possibility that Christianity will not be looked favorably upon. And in American Omens that is definitely the situation.

People are manipulated. Cars are automated. One can speak into thin air and receive a spoken answer, or an answer in one's head, or pictures appear to hang in the air in front of you. The future of technology? Perhaps. But the future is also one of control either using technology or sheer force.

In American Omens, the main, yet shadow, character is The Reckoner. I fully expected this to be some sort of avenging angel or representative of God in an end-times scenario. That doesn't seem to be the case. But that might be different if this story line plays out in more books along this line if Mr. Thrasher pursues it as a series. This story is, after all, about the downfall or decline of Christianity in America and we have the whole World  in which we can look for prophetic or end-times stories.

About the book: In this taut thriller that depicts a future where belief is dangerous, faith is deemed hatred, and a group of powerful elite keeps watch, the Reckoner has come to wake up America.

The year is 2038 and Cheyenne Burne is a brilliant young programmer working for Acatour, the world's top technology firm. Her father converts to Christianity, and he suddenly disappears without a trace. When a stranger hands Cheyenne a coded message that sends her on a collision course with a clandestine group of believers, she must put her life in the hands of those following a man known only as the Reckoner. He claims he wants to bring back true faith in Christ to America and also reveal the forces behind the disappearances of the many renowned people who publicly declared their Christian faith.

Operating in the shadows and living off the grid, this mysterious prophet assembles a ragtag team--including a former bookseller whose store was shut down for selling prohibited books--to help him take the battle for transparency to the top. With a ruthless FBI agent closing in, can Cheyenne and the others expose the truth and lead a return to God in America before it's too late?

A signed copy of American Omens
Begins February 13
Ends March 12 at 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions shared are mine alone and are freely given. Giveaway copy is provided and shipped directly to winner by author or publisher.