Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Wintry reads for the kiddies from Candlewick Press: "The Shortest Day" & "The Snow Leopard" [Review & Giveaway]

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper and illustrated by Carson Ellis (Candlewick Press 32 pages – Ages 4-8)

#1 New Release in Children's Non-religious Holiday Books
My thoughts:  This is quite an interesting book for children with engaging pictures that lend mystery and awe to the mythical giant legend tends to have wander Earth shortening the days and bringing the dark and the peoples methods of coping with their fears of the loss of light and the increase of darkness.

This legend or myth is most prevalent in the far north where the days become almost completely lost to the dark.

The joy they feel as the light begins to return is captured in the text and illustrations.

This is a good presentation of the ways peoples have dealt with their feelings as the days wax and wane with the passing of the seasons.

About the book: In this seasonal treasure, Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper’s beloved poem heralds the winter solstice, illuminated by Caldecott Honoree Carson Ellis’s strikingly resonant illustrations.

As the sun set on the shortest day of the year, early people would gather to prepare for the long night ahead. They built fires and lit candles. They played music, bringing their own light to the darkness, while wondering if the sun would ever rise again. Written for a theatrical production that has become a ritual in itself, Susan Cooper’s poem "The Shortest Day" captures the magic behind the returning of the light, the yearning for traditions that connect us with generations that have gone before — and the hope for peace that we carry into the future. Richly illustrated by Carson Ellis with a universality that spans the centuries, this beautiful book evokes the joy and community found in the ongoing mystery of life when we celebrate light, thankfulness, and festivity at a time of rebirth. Welcome Yule!

Snow Leopard: Ghost of the Mountains by Justin Anderson and illustrated by Patrick Benson (Candlewick Press 32 pages – Ages 5-8)

My thoughts: The illustrations beautifully capture the soft starkness of the mountain ranges covered in snow as the Snow Leopard roams and preys blending so thoroughly that he is considered a "ghost."

 The Snow Leopard's story of life in the Himalayas is beautifully told with gentle respect for this large cat who has strength, agility, thick-warm fur, and cunning abilities that enable it to live at heights of 18,000' conserving its energy.

The salient facts tucked away as asides separate from the storyline are so interesting. It would be such a treat to be able to see (and touch, but impossible, of course) one of these fantastic creatures.

I highly recommend this book for libraries everywhere.

About the book: Look! A line of paw prints in the snow. Follow the tracks to see the rare and utterly majestic snow leopard and visit her secret world.

The people who live among the high peaks of the Himalayas tell stories of a mysterious animal called the gray ghost. To see one, you’d have to be very lucky indeed. Join a zoologist in the Himalayan mountains as he searches for the elusive creature. With her pale gold and silver-gray coat painted with black rosettes, she blends so well into the boulders, it’s no wonder she’s thought of as a ghost of the mountains. But the fortunate few who spot her are rewarded with a sight they will never forget. Written by an expert with firsthand experience, beautifully illustrated, and interwoven with fascinating facts, this vicarious look at a breathtaking animal includes an end note suggesting resources to explore.

2 Winners Each 2 Books
Begins November 27 
Ends December 20  at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA and CANADA addresses.
NO P.O. Boxes. Canadian winners must provide phone number.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. Giveaway copies are provided by and sent directly to the winners by the publisher or publicist.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Protecting Tanner Hollow by Lynette Eason

My thoughts: I have had such fun and enjoyment reading this set of four novellas. Usually, I prefer full length novels, but do have a fondness for the shorter, less involved reads that novellas present to the reader. These were not joyful, happy, luvy-duvy stories. They were tense, action stories and all were set in the fictional quaint, small town Tanner Hollow in North Carolina.

The characters throughout the four novellas were connected just as you might expect them to be in a small town where everyone knows everyone else, (and their business) and there is a lot of kinship going on. The author, Lynette Eason, did a good joy of interweaving, yet not being repetitive, the livelihoods and connections that the people had with each other.

As I was reading, I found it easy to feel the tension and empathize with the heroines as they were involved with people and events that placed them in peril. I also found it handsomely fun giving me warm-fuzzy feeling when we had heroes of various types step in and rescue or solve problems for those in dire need.

I thoroughly enjoyed these light, but intense, and short reads. They filled a need in my life right now when I need interesting, short diversionary reads.

About the book:

Four novellas from bestselling author Lynette Eason take you to the town of Tanner Hollow and the men and women who keep it safe, trusting each other with their lives—and sometimes their hearts. Four nail-biting novellas in one!

Lethal Homecoming
Nolan Tanner never got over Kallie Ainsworth's sudden, unexplained departure. Now when he comes to her rescue after an attempt on her life, all the old feelings come rushing back.

Lethal Conspiracy
When professional fundraiser Lillian Maloney sees her father's campaign manager commit murder, she goes on the run from the men he hires to kill her. A close call brings firefighter Jason Tanner to the rescue, but the killer is closing in . . .

Lethal Secrets
Someone wants Honor McBride dead. When Eli Murphy helps her change a flat tire and discovers the danger Honor is in, he longs to help--but Eli has secrets of his own that could get them all killed.

Lethal Agenda
When Detective Derek St. John rescues a woman he's met only once before--and has never been able to forget--he finds himself falling for her. But he'll have to keep Claire Montgomery alive if they're to have a future together.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing, to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Beloved Christmas songs with Clear Sound Music Chip Technology board books for children

Just in time for the holidays: wonderful new Christmas titles from Smart Kidz, freshly redesigned with improved sound quality! A delightful addition to a family’s celebrations this season.

These beloved children's books now use ClearSound XL Sound Chip Technology, so you get crystal-clear music – along with darling illustrations  in the sing-along books. Books have a small on/off switch on the back and they offer free replacement batteries.

O Little Town of Bethlehem 

My thoughts: Cute illustrations tell the story and the colors jump out at you from dark backgrounds. Appropriate and visually engaging. The book tells in rhyme about the birth in Bethlehem, the shepherds, the three wise men.The star that shown brightly.

The push button for music activation is a "star" with a radiant light. The last page of the book gives the first verse of the beloved Carol with the light of the star shinning down upon the beloved Christ Child.

I highly recommend this as a sturdy, engaging, book and the sound is great!

About the book: This adorable book celebrates the birth of Jesus through the joy of a beloved Christmas carol. As you listen to the carol, you can read the ancient story of the first visitors who traveled to Bethlehem to worship the Christ Child. Inspired by this traditional carol, "O Little Town of Bethlehem" features new rhyming verses that give meaning to the wonderful traditions of Christmas and a caroling choir that sings the song. The combination of the children's choir, rhyming verses, and charming illustrations will captivate and delight young children. Find it at Barnes & Noble

Jingle Bells

My thoughts:  Jingle Bells is simply a long loved wintry song that we usually sing at Christmas time. It has absolutely nothing to do with the real meaning of Christmas, but it is a lot of fun.

Kiddies can see everyone engaged in a romp over the fields of snow riding a bright sleigh pulled by frisky horses.

This is a fun book and the music is lively and clear sounding and cheerful singing. The push button doesn't light up on this one but has a bell design to it.

Cute book and lots of fun.

About the book: Composed by James Pierpoint in 1857, is one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time. During the winter in pre-automobile days, a horse-drawn sleigh was the typical way to get around town. To avoid collisions at blind intersections, it was common to adorn horses' harnesses with straps that had bells attached. Inspired by this popular Christmas song, Jingle Bells will engage children's imaginations as they take a magical sleigh ride in the snow at Christmastime. Also, Jingle Bells features new verses that give meaning to the wonderful traditions of Christmas and a caroling choir that sings the favorite song. Find it at Barnes & Noble.

Two other titles in this line of Clear Sound musical board books are: "Silent Night" and "Joy To the World." All are available at your favorite book seller.

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

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Heart & Home for Christmas Celebrating Joy in Your Living Space by Victoria Duerstock

My thoughts:  Again, the Heart & Home book is simply beautiful and just packed with lovely decorating scenes that will help you envision how you can take what you have, or get something to add to what you already have and create a loving, lovely and relaxing home that is welcoming to friends and family.

Victoria Duerstock has created a book that is a true devotional and combined it with her decorating skills and suggestions and tips. You won't feel intimidated by this professional decorator. True, we can't all have homes filled with the lovely furniture and accouterments that are shown, but the tips and sweet presentation help us to realize that it is the loving atmosphere we create that counts and brings the Heart to the Home.

Each daily devotional has a topic and related Scripture. Much of the focus is on the nativity and the age old stories we all know and love. But we are drawn to thoughts about our "Mighty God" (page.55) where the statement, "There is nothing in my life that God's Might cannot conquer" fills one's heart and soul with joy and comfort at this magnificent promise.

And then later in the book we are encouraged to "Bear Each Other's Burdens" and the tip for this page is not about decorating, it is about bearing other's burdens - a widow who needs some help, a person who needs a meal, someone who needs your company and a meal. Encourage! (page 179)

And Ms. Duerstock also addresses being mindful of "The Joy Snatchers." Oh there are so many Joy Snatchers. Let God's love pervade your being and chase the Joy Snatchers.

This makes a lovely book for your own home to place on a table in your living room or on a bedside table in a guest bedroom. It is also a lovely gift for a lady to whom you wish to be a bearer of God's Light and His Joy. May you reap bountifully from your own ownership and the sharing and gifting of these God directed thoughts with others.

About the book: As a writer, teacher, and speaker with a busy work and family life, Victoria Duerstock understands that all the tasks of the holiday season can make it easy to forget the true joy that Christmas can bring.

In Heart & Home for Christmas, Duerstock brings her mission to inspire hope for God's purpose, and her 20 years of experience in the furniture and design industry together, connecting Scripture with design elements and easy decorating tips in a way that reflects the true spirit of Christmas. The devotions and holiday decorating tips will encourage spiritual growth and inspiration to have both a captivating heart and home at Christmas.

About the author: Victoria Duerstock is a writer, blogger, teacher, and speaker. Her mission is to inspire hope and ignite bigger dreams for God’s purpose in each of our stories. She has a master’s degree in music, but ended up working in the furniture industry for more than twenty years and loves to make connections between our home environments and our spiritual lives. Victoria writes at Encouraging Women Today, Everything’s Gravy, Creative Corner, and Serious Writer Academy and also has contributed to devotionals for Worthy. She lives in Nesbit, Mississippi, with her husband, and they have three children.

Learn more about Victoria at: www.victoriaduerstock.com
Follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/VDuerstock
Instagram www.instagram.com/vduerstock

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

North America: A Fold-Out Graphic History by NYT Best Selling Author Sarah Albee (What on Earth Books) [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  What a terrific book! This ingenious timeline style book covers a mass amount of history it is simply mind boggling. Most of us at some time in our lives have read, studied, or created a timeline of sorts. The author and artist of North America: A Fold-Out Graphic History have done an extensive and creative work.

Based on archaeological discoveries, the author has created a timeline that really goes back to early man and how they lived on the North American continent. Assumptions are made about life in North America. Actual known history that is documented would only cover a small percentage of the space this timeline covers when examined along with the original habitats, or native peoples and the history given as they developed and migrated.

While this vast historical span is great information to study, that which covers the last 1,000 years or so would be better comprehended. Perhaps separate books. 

The pages should be spread out for better comprehension of the flow of events and achievements portrayed by archaeological finds. The bites of information are interesting but are quite jumbled onto the pages. For some, this might be a deterrent. For others, not a problem. 

Illustrations are simplified and coloration is somewhat rustic rather than colorful.

I found the book and information interesting and look forward to sharing it with my grand children.

About the book: Featuring a unique fold out format that can be read as a book or unfolded onto the floor, North America emphasizes the diversity of the continent’s population and helps readers explore the rich and often surprising history of the peoples of the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the islands of the Caribbean — a story never before included in one book.

North American history unfolds in this graphic timeline that places the United States, Canadian, Mexican and Caribbean histories in the context of their continent, including:

  • From healers in the Aleutian islands in 10,000 BCE to the first to cultivate corn in 3,000 BCE in Mexico, to Canadian scientists studying butterfly migration in 1975
  • From the Aztecs of the city of Tenochtitlan to the Mississippians who built Cahokia to the Inuit of the arctic and the Taino of the Caribbean.
  • The Spanish, French, English, and other Europeans who invaded in the 1500s, the enslaved Africans forcibly brought to our shores, and millions more, from all around the world.
This is the story of creation and destruction, migration, exploration, conquest, wars, alliances, trade, governments, railroads, mutinies, panning for gold, invention, and art. It includes terrible injustices and amazing movements toward equality and freedom, and so much more. Created in partnership with the Smithsonian Institute, the graphic novel style illustrations by William Exley coupled with Albee’s signature pithy, accessible text results in an engrossing, visually stunning reference book for both home and classroom use.
Begins November 19
Ends December 20 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provide and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Personal Note: While I do not agree with all information and premises in the books I review, I personally believe a broad understanding of today's thinking is important for me and our children should be exposed to various information even that which is contrary to our own faith, beliefs, or knowledge for a broad education.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Holiday candles bring fragrant joy to your seasonal celebrations [Review & Giveaway]

The fact is that candles make great hostess or birthday gifts or simply a gift to yourself. They smell yummy when just spending a night at home alone or having guests over.

The soft glow of a candle brings heart-warming feelings to a room benefiting all within. When you add to that a scent that invokes memories of beloved flavors, the ambiance grows exponentially.

And then when you know that the soft glow of a lovely smelling candle is made with ingredients that won't harm you and your loved ones, your heart nearly bursts with joy and pride.

Softly glowing flame ignites feelings of peace, hope, joy withing one's heart.

These soy candles are simply made of natural ingredients and the ambiance of flavors is from pure essential oils that tantalize the memory and your senses.

And there are so many delectable flavors from which you may choose. I have some favorites. What would yours be?

Opening the box to find 4 delightful candles!

Let's look at the real perks of these candles.....

  • Soy
  • Cotton wicks
  • All natural
  • No perfumes - delightful aromas are from pure essential oils from plants
  • Glass recyclable jars


Good Earth Beauty Exclusives' all natural, soy based, slow burning candle will help you relax and enjoy the moment.  Soy based with natural fragrance and essential oils. Choose from a variety of scents.  Glass jar - 4 Ounces - Burn Time 20 Hours

These make perfect gifts to take to your hostess for celebrations of birthdays & events. Or simply to bring a warm glow to your own home.

Free of:  parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors. Made in small batches in the US by Good Earth Beauty 
Ingredients: Purified Water, Organic Barbadensis Leaf Juice (Aloe), Sunflower Oil, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Tamanu Oil, Organic Borage Oil, Flax Seed Oil, Organic, Evening Primrose Oil, Emulsifying Wax, Rose Hip Oil, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Wildcrafted Arnica Montana, Chamomile, Grapeseed Oil, Macadamia Nut Oil, Radish Root Ferment (Natural Preservative),  proprietary blend of natural fragrance oils

You'll want to order yours now so you don't miss out on these seasonal candles as well as those that are in demand year round.

gives you a 10% discount on your entire purchase.
This is a special "Chat With Vera" code but feel free to share. 
And as always.... SHIPS FREE IN USA

2 Winners - 1 Candle Each
Begins November 18
Ends December 14 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
If you have won a GEB giveaway here on Chat With Vera in the past 30 days, you are ineligible to win.

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary products to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by GoodEarthBeauty.com or its publicist.

All Around Bustletown: Winter by Rotraut Susanne Berner (Prestel Junior Board Book)[Review & Giveaway-USA/CANADA]

My thoughts: It's cold here in North Carolina as it is in much of the Northern Hemisphere. That is Winter - even though the "official first day of winter" has not yet arrived. Its cold. It has been snowing in lots of areas, and it is dreary, cold.

In Bustletown it is also Winter and everyone goes about their business attired for the cold. Getting out 'n about. Trees are bare. Snow is falling. But life continues to bustle All Around Bustletown.

The highly detailed, fun illustrations take the child from his cuddled up perch along side his mommy or daddy in their warm house out into the cold with all the folks of Bustletown. Because, although cold and dreary, life goes on. School is open. Doctors and dentists have to be seen. We have to shop. We're just as busy in Winter as any other time.

Also, this fun book has specific characters repeated throughout the book as they go about their Wintry activities. It's fun to follow them on each page and to imagine their thoughts, emotions, and predict actions.

Lots of look-and-find and discover on these pages for child to learn, engage, and identify.

About the book:  Kids will cozy up for hours of fun as they peruse this joyfully illustrated book that shows the endless ways winter takes hold in a busy, charming town.

Winter has arrived and everywhere you look people are embracing the season. At home there's baking, reading, and sleeping in, while on the farm the fields are fallow and quiet. Outside people are bundled up against the cold as they are skating, sledding, and running to catch a crowded bus. The town's buildings are alive with activity--piano lessons, a dentist appointment, shopping for presents, and visiting the museum. And if you look closer, you'll recognize the same characters on page after page, each with their own story. Wilfred the jogger has lost his keys, and Erica is shopping for a Christmas tree. Each minutely detailed scene is bursting with different people, such as a cheerful lady with an umbrella and a young violinist, as well as animals and birds.

In the tradition of Richard Scarry and Where's Waldo, this book encourages kids to return again and again to these charming spreads, following along with the characters and inventing their own stories. They'll recognize parts of their own world, while also learning about the endless ways we live, work, and play in the winter.
Begins November 18
Ends December 14 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA and CANADA addresses.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of Prestel Junior Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. Giveaway copy is  provided by and sent directly to the winner by the publisher or publicist.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

In the Cradle Lies (#2 in Tree of Life Series) by Olivia Newport

My thoughts:  This is an interesting story and the plot thickened early into it giving glimpses into the depth of tragic events families had experienced historically.

Involving two main families one of which has a time-slip, generational, back and forth story line, you get to meet some good folks with life-in-the-mundane experiences. And they also have a lively love of each other existence.

First of all, the central gathering place seems to be one of two - the Hidden Inn Bread and Breakfast and the local Ore the Mountain ice cream parlor. It seems most, if not all, of the characters frequent the ice cream parlor for favorite scopes or hot chocolate more than coffee shops such as StarBucks. Honestly, I was craving a scope of chocolate myself about 1/3 of the my way into the book.

Rich boy comes to town and starts spending or giving away cash like it grows on trees and he carries a mysterious old beat-up backpack. He is truly a mystery and is key to discovering the deep hidden plot that is thread through this second installment in the Tree of Life Series by Olivia Newport.

A light read without too much heart break and a sweet spot of romance sandwiched between all those scopes of ice cream.

About the Book: On a solo ski vacation in Canyon Mines, Colorado, Tucker has a love-hate relationship with his wealth, spending indiscriminately while skiing fearlessly and preparing to conquer the overgrown slope of Hidden Run, a dangerous run not attempted in decades. As genealogist Jillian tries to uncover enough of Tucker’s family tree to understand his charming nature but reckless resolve, Jillian’s equally charming father, Nolan, cajoles Tucker into giving him ski lessons to get him talking about the suspicious circumstances surrounding his grandfather’s life in St. Louis in the 1930s.

On the surface, Tucker’s family’s history seems too perfect. The secret may lie in the sealed envelope Tucker carries with him at all times—even on the ski slope. When no one can find Tucker to tell him the fiancΓ©e he never mentioned turned up in Canyon Mines, they realize he must be off attempting to ski Hidden Run alone in a snowstorm. And they may be too late.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fun seasonal Lip Balm for party favors and stocking stuffers #natural #vegan [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

With the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years) just around the corner, you don't want to be "caught short" and not have something for those special ladies in your life. You want good, quality stocking stuffers or party favors. Think outside the box and choose something of quality and beneficial use that is still fun, exciting, and a joy to use and still won't "break-the-bank."

We're talking a plethora of flavors of Lip Balms produced by the good folks at GOOD EARTH BEAUTY EXCLUSIVES. I know these are good products and I use them daily! Personally! And I have gifted these fabulous, healing, good feeling, joy-to-use lip balms to a host of family and friends.

What about you? What's on your list of stocking stuffers? Party favors? Daughter's sleep-over-party? Something for the "seniors" in your community? You name it. There is a good reason to grab these up in quantity.

For the Wintry Holiday Season..... Good Earth Beauty presents.....


CLICK HERE to shop this set of 3
Don't forget 10% discount
code VERA10
Product informationVegan - natural -  soothing and moisturizing - helps heal chapped lips. Lip Balm Natural Vegan set of  3 fun, original scents -  candy Cane, sugar cane & Frosted gingerbread. 

Rich in Shea butter to keep your lips moisturized 
For winter months. Exclusive flavors come from essential oils - never flavoring or perfumes.
  • Cruelty free
  • Paraben free
  • Non gmo
Made by Good Earth Beauty (Set of 3 $15.00) (reg. $6.25 each lip balm)

Ingredients: Meadowfoam oil, olive oil, avocado butter, candellia wax, vitamin E, natural flavor oil

Having a party and want some goodies to hand out (that are NOT CANDY)? How about ordering individual Lip Balms for your guests? Priced at $6.25 each OR you can order several sets of these Holiday Lip balms and give them individually or as a set. You'll save some holiday cash that way.

I highly recommend these lip balms (and the other "flavors" as well). You really need to see all the delightful flavors Good Earth Beauty Exclusives has in these wonderful lip balms.

Be sure you enter the #giveaway.

Go ahead and order some for yourself and your gifts and.....

to take 10% off your entire purchase. 
(This is a special Chat With Vera code but feel free to share it with others.)

3 Holiday Lip Balms (Val. $18.75) 2 Winners
Begins November 14
Ends December 13  at 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided sample products to facilitate a review. Opinions and ideas expressed are mine alone and freely given. Prize is provided by and shipped directly to the winner by Good Earth Beauty webstore.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Little one's early learning books from Nosy Crow: "100 First Words" illustrated by Edward Underwood & "Alphabet Street" by Jonathan Emmett [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

100 First Words illustrated by Edward Underwood giveaways - yes - 2 winners US/CAN no PO box

My thoughts: A very sturdy, large board book to introduce "first words" to very young children. The book includes lift-the-flap discovery items that sort of double-teach. They learn the word and object by also the flaps connection. For example: you lift the barn flap and see a horse and the word "horse." Or you lift the leaf flap and discover a caterpillar and the word caterpillar. In both cases, the flap is the "domain" of the hidden object.

What words are the kiddies learning in this book? Words associated with a farm: horse, farmer, tractor, goose, cow, goat, etc. Words associated with a trip to the zoo: tiger, hippo, zebra, turtle, giraffe etc. Pages for words associated with "vehicles," "About Us," Outside or Inside. 

This is a very organized book of first words and offers lots of learning opportunities other than simply identifying words and pictures.

I highly recommend.

About the book: With easy-to-lift card flaps on each spread, this stylish first word book is sure to hit the mark with little ones as they learn all sorts of new animals and objects. A clean layout grouped by theme features one hundred essential words and simple illustrations to help toddlers understand them.

Alphabet Street by Jonathan Emmett

My thoughts: As with most books from the Nosy Crow imprint of Candlewick Press, the books are innovative and interesting and always appealing to child (and adult). Alphabet Street offers the unusual fold out book that elongates into a "street" where the alphabet can be visualized. You start out at Alfie's Bakery which is right next door to the Cat who is preparing Coffee and Donuts.

Toward the end of the street which is toward the end of the book, you have the Queen's Restaurant where in the loft over the restaurant the Quails are quarreling. 

I just love this delightful book that even has its own pretty ribbon to tie it closed.

I highly recommend.

About the book: A is for Aardvark, asleep in her bed. B is for Bear, who is baking some bread.

This spectacular lift-the-flap book is also a panoramic play scene and a wonderful wall-chart to decorate your room! Lift the flaps, read the funny rhyming text, learn the letters of the alphabet and, then, when you're finished, flip the book over and have fun with the play scene on the reverse. 

2 Winners Receive Both Books
Begins November 14
Ends December 4 @ 12:01 ET
No PO Boxes & Canada Winners must provide Phone Number
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Special holiday gift for girls: The Raymie Nightingale Three-Book Collection by Kate DiCamillo

From time to time, Chat With Vera has the opportunity to simply share a beautiful product. That is what this collection of Kate DiCamillo books is. Ideal for gifting to a girl at Christmas or any other time that is gift-giving-worthy. Take a peek.....

First came Raymie Nightingale, the “triumphant and necessary book”* that would become a National Book Award Finalist. Then followed the tender Louisiana’s Way Home, featuring “one of DiCamillo’s most singular and arresting creations” (The New York Times Book Review) and marking the first time the two-time Newbery Medalist had revisited the world of one of her novels. And finally, the much-hoped-for third novel, Beverly, Right Here, awaits its rapt audience. 

Here, the entire trilogy of novels — the perfect gift for both longtime fans and new devotees — is available in a beautifully designed set. Included are hardcover editions of:

Raymie Nightingale

A 2016 National Book Award Finalist! Two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

Louisiana’s Way Home

The instant New York Times bestseller!
From two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo comes a story of discovering who you are — and deciding who you want to be.

When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana's and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.)

Called “one of DiCamillo’s most singular and arresting creations” by The New York Times Book Review, the heartbreakingly irresistible Louisiana Elefante was introduced to readers in Raymie Nightingale — and now, with humor and tenderness, Kate DiCamillo returns to tell her story.

Beverly, Right Here

Revisiting once again the world of Raymie Nightingale, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo turns her focus to the tough-talking, inescapably tenderhearted Beverly.

Beverly put her foot down on the gas. They went faster still.
This was what Beverly wanted — what she always wanted. To get away. To get away as fast as she could. To stay away.

Beverly Tapinski has run away from home plenty of times, but that was when she was just a kid. By now, she figures, it’s not running away. It’s leaving. Determined to make it on her own, Beverly finds a job and a place to live and tries to forget about her dog, Buddy, now buried underneath the orange trees back home; her friend Raymie, whom she left without a word; and her mom, Rhonda, who has never cared about anyone but herself. Beverly doesn’t want to depend on anyone, and she definitely doesn’t want anyone to depend on her. But despite her best efforts, she can’t help forming connections with the people around her — and gradually, she learns to see herself through their eyes. In a touching, funny, and fearless conclusion to her sequence of novels about the beloved Three Rancheros, #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo tells the story of a character who will break your heart and put it back together again.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary set of books from the publisher to facilitate this post/review. Opinions expressed are mine, information is publisher's. All are freely given here on this post.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Encyclopedia of American Indian History and Culture from National Geographic [Review & Giveaway]

Encyclopedia of American Indian History and Culture (ages 8-12-adult, hardcover $24.99)

My thoughts: As America gears up to celebrate the Thanksgiving season, school children across the nation reenact the "Thanksgiving Meal" shared by the Pilgrims and the Indians. American history is filled with episodes - many of which cause our minds and hearts to reel with visualized terror - from every corner of our United States.

In Encyclopedia of American Indian History and Culture the publishers at National Geographic Kids have compiled an extensive collection of organized information, historical and cultural, of Indians who lived in North America.

Categorized by geographic regions and the different tribes or groups of Indians who lived in that specific region, the book explores the range of Indian life from thousands of years prior to Europeans discovering the land mass.

Outstanding photographs of individuals and groups, both current and historical imagery detail the differences of peoples as well as their habits, clothes, utensils, etc. I am completely mesmerized by the beauty.

I think this large specialty encyclopedia would be especially nice for all libraries - school, home, public, and classroom. But I also highly recommend it for any family who carries Indian heritage as a source of pride in their heritage.

About the book: “This encyclopedia fills a gap in the availability of reliable information about indigenous peoples...It was produced under the aegis of expert consultants from each of those regions—experts who are not only members of Native communities but who are also professionally involved in the research, preservation, and documentation of indigenous matters….In sum, this book should be part of every classroom and school library.” - STARRED REVIEW, Booklist

More than 160 tribes are featured presenting a comprehensive overview of the history of North America's Native peoples. From the Apache to the Zuni, readers will learn about each tribe's history, traditions, and culture, including the impact of European expansion across the land and how tribes live today.

Features include maps of ancestral lands; timelines of important dates and events; fact boxes for each tribe; bios of influential American Indians such as Sitting Bull; sidebars on daily life, homes, food, clothing, jewelry, and games;   To help give kids the lay of the land, this reference is arranged by region, and all federally recognized tribes are included. Tribal members representing each region and experts at the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution were involved in its creation.
Begins November 12
Ends December 1 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy if provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist.


This beautifully packaged and made water "pick" or flosser was a product I had long wondered if it should be incorporated into my dental health routine. Our family has been twice-a-year professional dental cleaning, braces, regular care and top product users as far as our dental health goes. We just never got around to getting the water flosser. Just used regular flossing, picks, and brushing to maintain our teeth.

I can see that it will take some practice to learn to use this beautiful tool effectively without totally showering down myself and the bathroom. But it might just be worth the major learning curve. There are 4 tips. At first I thought perhaps they were for different family members and that is a way to use them. However, one has a "brush" tip made of soft rubbery plastic material which I assume is for actually pressing up to the gum line the facilitate penetration of the water into the narrow spots.

The rechargeable battery is a plus and it recharges via an USB cord connection. Makes it great for travel since most folks travel with USB connectivity. I am looking forward to using this new dental hygiene tool and am sure my dentist will applaud.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Christmas Activity Book from Candlewick Press [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

ISBN: 9781536211382
Candlewick Press $9.99 Ages 3-7
My thoughts:  I just absolutely love this activity book. It is chock full of bright, fun, interesting activities. This is not your average word puzzle, maze, sticker book with coloring pages. No, this delightful book has things to make, activities to do, stickers to color, pre-colored stickers to stick. Just so much fun.

In the back there is a Christmas tree to which you affix a special sticker for each day in December ending with Dec. 25. What fun!

Crafts you can do with simple items. Things you can do with family. Just so much fun,.

Now, understand, that while Christmas to me and many people is about the birth of the Savior, Jesus, this particular activity book is strictly on the secular side of Christmas. There is still a place for fun and enjoyment without detracting from the real meaning of Christmas.

So find your kiddies one of these to help keep them entertained through the cold December days and brighten their days a bit.

About the book: Inspired by the animated special based on a beloved classic, this treasure trove of activities, fun facts, and more than a hundred stickers is the perfect gift for a magical time of year.

There’s so much to make, do, and discover in the countdown to Christmas! Whether kids like staying indoors to make crafts or stepping outside to explore, they’ll find plenty of ideas in this gem of a book. Would you like to create a wreath, design your own cards, or make a special cake for the birds? How about learning some seasonal jokes, looking for winter creatures, or completing a Christmas tree calendar with stickers? With easy-to-follow instructions, charming illustrations, and plenty of holiday spirit, this hands-on guide to making the most of the season will keep children entertained and inspired.

2 Winners
Begins November 11
Ends November 30 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' books are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist.

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michele Griep

About the Book: Three Delightful Christmas Tales from Beloved Storyteller Michelle Griep

Pour yourself a cuppa, get lost in the merriment of the season, and enjoy a Dickensian Christmas in three stories from fan favorite Michelle Griep:

12 Days a Bleakly Manor: Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

My thoughts:  We all know and love Christmas as depicted by Charles Dickens and have read, seen movies or plays, and recalled significant scenes from his famous tale. Our author, Michele Griep, takes us on a journey to the days of Dickens and we meet characters worthy of one the famous gentleman's tales.

This book is a collection of three Christmas tales so what I am doing is spreading my own reading joy out over the holidays. I just finished 12 Days at Bleakly Manorand it is certainly one I enjoyed.

It seemed as though some famously silly character types such as one would encounter in Alice's Mad Hatter Tea Party were part of the collection of folks gathered in the rich, cold, bewildering halls of Bleakly Manor. Though an elegant place, it was also a bleak place. Each person assembled had either lost something they needed to find or regain or they were in need of something. Riches, love, security, hope.

The story is a sort of mystery. A sort of romance. A sort of Dickens plot where it seems the underdog surely must regain some dignity or something positive.

Yes, there is a lovely heroin. Yes, there is a strong, dashing gentleman. Yes, there is a beloved auntie. And yes, there is a happy ending. But getting there...... well, that is the tale.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story and highly recommend it.

As the holidays progress, I'll try to return here and give you my thoughts on the other two novellas encompassed within the folds of this beautiful book.


A Tale of Two Hearts: Pleasure seeker William Barlow needs a wife immediately to gain his uncle’s inheritance, and Mina Scott is just the girl to make him look respectable—too bad she turns him down. Ought he give her a second chance?


The Old Lace Shop: Recently widowed Bella White is finally freed from the domination of the overbearing men in her life, but when she enters into a business partnership with the handsome Edmund Archer, she begins to wonder if marriage is worth a second chance.

NOTE: This book is a limited print so if you are interested in having a copy, I suggest you do not delay in placing an order or snapping one off the shelves of your favorite book seller. They will surely sell out fast.

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

Saturday, November 9, 2019

For cat lovers, National Geographic Kids "Cat Science Unleashed" & "Cat Breed Guide" [Review & Giveaway]

Well folks, we missed National Cat Week in October. But for those of you who have cats in your home or in your life or wish you had cats in your life, I guess it is ALWAYS National Cat Time. So these two books are appropriate for you any time. Take a gander - oops! "a meow" at these lovelies.....

Cat Science Unleashed: Fun Activities to Do With Your Feline Friend (ages 8-12, Paperback $12.99) 

Part of the hugely successful Hands-On Science line (Dog Science Unleashed Fall 2018) Cat Science Unleashed contains 22 safe and cat-friendly activities that let you work alongside your cat to discover how your amazing feline friend thinks, moves, drinks, stays warm, gets clean, cools off, and more.

Step-by-step instructions, clear and interesting scientific explanations, and cool photographs shot specifically for this book reveal how catnip affects your kitty, how she can see so well in the dark, why she always lands on all fours and techniques for testing her vitals and tracking her fitness.  Also includes a behind-the-scenes look at current feline research.

Cat Breed Guide: A Complete Reference to Your Purr-Fect Best Friend (ages 8-12, Hardcover $19.99) 

From Russian Blues and Munchkins to Maine Coons and Persians, this comprehensive guide gives an overview of 71 different cat breeds. Each profile includes the breed's "cat stats": country of origin, size, coat color and pattern, grooming difficulty, and cat-titude. With the help of veterinarian Dr. Gary Weitzman and cat behaviorist Mieshelle Nagelschneider, kids will also learn how to choose the right cat for them, how to take care of their new feline friend, and how to understand its behavior. Fun feature spreads cover cats in popular culture, prehistoric cats, and the house cat's wild cousins.

Now, don't you just wanna go out and get yourself or your little ones a kitty to love on a bit?

Begins November 10—30 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of both books to facilitate a post. Any opinions expressed are mine alone and are freely given. Prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher.