Friday, December 27, 2019

Code This!: Puzzles, Games, Challenges, & Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver in You by Jennifer Szymanski a Nat Geo Kids Books STEM book [Review & Giveaway]

The fun and games and parties of the holiday are over. Winter has really settled in meaning more inside time. All that means it is time to break out the things that will entertain the kids, grow their minds, and occupy them during those dreary winter days.

Code This!: Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts for the Problem Solver in You will provide that STEM fun and learning that you love for your kids to have.

ISBN: 9781426334436
Ages 8-12 | Paperback $16.99
National Geographic Kids Publihing
My thoughts:  Computer programming or coding is a complex science and/or language (or languages) that take highly skilled people to write. It is also the basis for everything technological that we use, enjoy, and rely upon on a daily basis. So a book for kids ages 8 to 12 titled "Code This!" certainly compels. But does it actually enable kids to write computer code?

No. Simply no.

It does, however, engage the readers in concepts that enable understanding the complexity of writing code and the necessity for order of execution. Activities are included where the young reader writes down the step-by-step, turn-by-turn movements or actions that are involved in executing an activity. It is likened to following the recipe or instructions for cooking. Only with coding you actually are instructing when to pick up the spoon, insert the spoon into the ingredient, lift the spoon, etc. The details of coding are minute in order to execute rightfully.

Or simply stated, the use of sequencing logic is paramount to coding.

The games in "Code This!" include writing code such as word ciphers. Sure this isn't computer coding, but it is a puzzle and the mental exercise prepares for more advanced coding.

All-in-all the book can be a lot of fun and can certainly enable the readers to think in a highly detailed method to execute the variety of activities.

Back material is provided which is interesting. Also, pictures of three types of computer languages used in coding are shown. And, of course, the answers are tucked away in the back of the book.

A fun, educational book.

About the book: 
“The writing is crisp and clear throughout…..Appealingly, this positive, highly accessible coding guide needs no computers.” - Kirkus 
"Concepts such as algorithms, optimization, constraints, cryptology, and binary code are introduced with fun and workable hands-on activities...A strength of this title is its clarity. The conversational tone is perfect for the intended age range.  -  School Library Journal
Programming concepts come to life in this kid-friendly intro to the basics of computer science and coding, with puzzles, games, and quirky characters.  As part of the Coder Crew and with the help of Cody the Robot, readers are “on a mission” to write algorithms to find hidden treasures, decode ciphers to read secret messages, create loops to program an expedition, and dive into concepts like constraints, debugging and binary code.

Begins December 28
Ends January 15 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic to facilitate a review. Opinions expressed are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher.

The Rebel Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower) by Shannon McNear [Giveaway 3 Winners]

My thoughts:  The author continues the Daughters of the Mayflower series with a look at a woman of the South during the Civil War. The author's presentation takes a look at the issues of the north and south and in this story primarily focuses on that of the MacFarlane family who owns a home and land in Tennessee. They don't believe in slavery nor own any slaves to work their land or home.

After a major battle between the Union and Confederacy near their home, Pearl MacFarlane is confronted by her cousin who desires to marry her, with a bevy of Union soldiers gravely injured in the battle and tells her she is to care for them. Sorely lacking in provisions for themselves, they now must undertake the care of wounds and save the lives of the enemy. For truly they are the enemy of their beloved State and Confederacy even though the MacFarlanes don't own slaves.

The story examines the inner conflict of Pearl, the emotional and mental deterioration of her father, the issue of intermarriage, and the dangers that await a young woman during wartime. A sweet, conflicting romance develops between Pearl and a Union officer in her care and keeping. 

This is a carefully crafted fictional story of the lives of those involved in the Civil War and gives readers an opportunity to explore the feelings of those on both sides of this war that nearly ruined the United States.

About the Book: Setting - 1863, Tennessee, Civil War

Can Love Form Amidst Tensions of War?

During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.

Daughters of the Mayflower series:

  • The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
  • The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
  • The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
  • The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)?
  • The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
  • The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)
  • The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1836 Texas (February 2019)
3 Winners Receive A Copy
Begins December 1
Ends December 30 at 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Barbour publishing to facilitate a review, though a review is not required. Giveaway contest is held by Chat With Vera and prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Barbour Publishing or its publicist.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

THE PROMISES OF GOD STORYBOOK BIBLE (The Story of God's Unstoppable Love) Jennifer Lyell

ISBN: 9781535928328
B&HKids Publishing
My thoughts:  Typically, young children's books are quite limited in the scope of the promises found in the Bible with which children are made familiar. The rainbow promise. The never leave you nor forsake you promise. The promise of a Saviour Redeemer. Just a few.

But in The Promises of God Storybook Bible the child has the opportunity to see how God has loved his people and his creation throughout time. How He has made promises and kept them throughout the ages in many ways to many people.

I think the content, layout, and method of story telling suitable for ages 5 to 10.  The basic stories will be recognized by many children, but the application of how each is related to a promise of God may require some extra parental interaction.

The story telling tone is conversational and relaxed yet holds steady with the teachings of God's Word. The book takes the reader from the Genesis or beginning, through the fall of man, and on through the Old Testament and New Testament ending with our Returning Redeemer in the Revelation.

This is a storybook and it is not a Bible though it does take one through much of the Bible with each story section showing the general area of the Bible from which it is taken. There are a few discussion questions at the end of each story to enhance understanding.

I think this is a very good storybook of Bible stories and the emphasis on the Promises of God sets it apart from the usual Bible storybook.

About the book: God’s love is unstoppable. And that’s a promise.

Noah’s ark. Joseph’s dreams. Jesus’s miracles. The Bible is rich with stories for our children to hear and enjoy, but when those stories uncover the thread of God’s promises, our children learn much more than individual Bible stories. They discover how God has demonstrated His love for us, from the first promise in the garden to the promise of the new heavens and earth.

A conversational, whimsical, biblically faithful retelling of more than fifty key Bible stories, The Promises of God Storybook Bible lets your child hear favorite stories with new ears, repeatedly assuring them that each word is proof of God’s unstoppable love and unbreakable promises to His people.

This title is available to request for review through January 3, 2019 while supplies last. Check out digital tools for your review for cover image and author biographies.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through the B&H/Lifeway Blogger program to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Set of 5 Picture books from Candlewick Press & imprints Nosy Crow & Templar Books - FLASH GIVEAWAY - 2 winners each 5 books - USA & CANADA

BEGINS Dec. 15 & ENDS Dec. 21.

All of the books are fun to read aloud. Under the Milky Way and Under the Southern Cross are cute informational books.

The Tooth Fairy in Training is a cute imaginary tale about a tooth fairy.

My two favorites of the set of five books are "By the Light of the Moon" are beautifully written rhyming fun story of critters at the pond. And the "Knight Who Said "No!"' is a cute story.

Under the Milky Way author/illustrator: Frané Lessac

Beneath a blanket of stars, crowds cheer at Little League games, campers share fireside stories, bull-riders hold on tight, and sled dogs race through falling snow — all under the Milky Way. Vivid artwork, engaging verses, and facts about the United States and Canada will captivate readers of all ages in a joyful offering from Frané Lessac. This celebratory picture book from Frané Lessac shines a light on beloved nighttime traditions under the starry skies of North America.

Under the Southern Cross  author/illustrator: Frané Lessac

After nightfall in Australia, families watch movies as bats flit overhead, mysterious orbs of light bounce across the outback, a staircase to the moon appears reflected at the ocean’s edge, and a Ferris wheel offers a citywide view — all under the Southern Cross. Bright and colorful artwork, fascinating natural phenomena, and shared experiences connect people across the country in Frané Lessac’s fascinating tour of Australia at night. This celebratory picture book from Frané Lessac shines a light on beloved nighttime activities under the starry skies of Australia.

Tooth Fairy in Training  author: Michelle Robinson, illustrator: Briony May Smith

Tate’s tooth-fairy training starts today, and her big sister, May, is taking her out on her very first tooth-collecting mission. After practicing at home, Tate is ready to test her skills, and May leads her to their first stop: a herd of hippos in a lake! After all, human children aren’t the only young creatures that lose their teeth. In fact, being a tooth fairy is a dangerous job, and Tate must visit all kinds of toothy predators before the night is up. Will she be able to collect the teeth from narwhals, anacondas, and more — all without waking a single creature? Author Michelle Robinson and illustrator Briony May Smith introduce two brave fairy sisters with a whimsical, rhyming read-aloud. When it’s time for Tate to start her tooth-fairy training, she learns that there’s much more to the job than just leaving coins for sleeping children.

By the Light of the Moon   author/illustrator: Frann Preston-Gannon

A little frog is singing to himself in the swamp one night. His song doesn’t seem complete, so he invites other animals to join in. Nothing sounds right until they are joined by the littlest voice in the swamp — that of a tiny firefly. This wonderfully illustrated picture book carries the important message that small voices need to be heard, too. A lyrical picture book from renowned U.K. artist Frann Preston-Gannon

The Knight Who Said “No!”  author: Lucy Rowland, illustrator: Kate Hindley

Ned the knight always does exactly what he’s told. When his parents ask him to pick up his toys, dig up the cabbages, or go to bed on time, he does it all with a smile. And when the dragon swoops into town every night, Ned always runs inside just as he’s asked. But one morning Ned says "NO!" He will not help his dad find his shield, his arrow, or his bow, and that night, he refuses to go inside. After a surprising encounter with the dragon, will he change his tune?

Begins Dec. 15
Ends December 21 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of the books. Opinions are mine, alone and freely given. Giveaway prizes are provided and shipped directly to winners by Candlewick Press publicist.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Penguin & Moose by Hannah C. Hall & illustrated by Anna Chernyshova from WorthyKids Publishing

My thoughts:  Charming.Sweet. Cute. Two friends are out at play. Penguin knows he is a bird and birds fly. Right? But.... Penguin can't fly. So he asks Moose, his playmate, to help him. Penguin devises several "tools" to help him with his goal to fly. Each time, failing.

Playtime. Naptime. Snacks. And a sweet lesson in friendship are beautifully brought out in this cute book.

Worthy Kids Publishing is a Christian publishing house so the lesson "A friend loves at all times" is straight from the Bible. A perfect little book for libraries (especially church and Christian or Parochial schools) and homes with little ones developing friendships.

About the book: Penguin has a problem--he doesn't know how to fly. He and his friend, Moose, try everything they can think of to get him airborne: balloons, treetop starts, cocooning like a caterpillar. But no matter how hard they try, Penguin remains firmly on the ground. At the end of the day, a tired and disappointed Penguin realizes that he has something better than the ability to fly--a friend that supports and loves him no matter what. Written by best-selling author Hannah C. Hall, this series debut celebrates the power of friendship. Children are sure to fall in love with the adorable Penguin and Moose.

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

Friday, December 13, 2019

NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible for Girls [Review & Giveaway]

Created especially for girls ages 8 to 12, this beautiful Bible provides ample space for young artists to express themselves through coloring and journaling.

Girls can get creative with the detailed, ready-to-color line art surrounding the hundreds of inspiring verses in the NIV Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible for Girls. This Bible is a perfect gift for a special young girl in your life and will become a cherished keepsake full of personalized creative expressions of faith.

Features include:

  • Hundreds of verses illustrated in ready-to-color line art
  • Thicker white paper for enduring note-taking
  • Lined, wide margins for notes, reflections and art
  • Complete text of the accurate, readable and clear New International Version (NIV)
  • Easy-to-read black letter text in single-column format
  • Lays flat in your hand or on your desk
  • Ribbon marker
  • Beautifully designed Leathersoft-over-board cover featuring screen-printing and other cover embellishments
  • 8-point type size
Using the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV) text makes the Bible accessible and easy-to-read for kids. The NIV is the result of over 50 years of work by the Committee on Bible Translation, who oversee the efforts of many contributing scholars. Representing the spectrum of evangelicalism, the translators come from a wide range of denominations and various countries and continually review new research to ensure the NIV remains at the forefront of accessibility, relevance, and authority. Every NIV Bible that is purchased helps Biblica translate and give Bibles to people in need around the world.

My thoughts: Today's publishers are providing a wonderful choice of Bibles that had added appeal to children and teens as well as adults. A variety of versions, such as the NIV, provide readability for young folks. I personally prefer the King James Version but am glad that God's Word is proliferating.

In this Beautiful Word™ Coloring Bible for Girls young girls will find a joy and pleasure in studying God's Word and focusing on key ideas and key verses via the drawings which they can color. So this Bible is illustrated, but the girl provides the colors. A good design and one to capture a girl's heart just as we wish for her heart to be captured and fall in love with God's Word.

An opportunity to win a copy of this Bible. Check it out. ENDS Dec. 16.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here to download coloring pages of your own.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls from Zondervan (HarperCollins Christian Publishing) for this review. This post is sponsored by Zondervan.”

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Good News for Little Hearts Series: Gus Loses His Grip, Henry Says Good-bye, & Tori Comes Out of Her Shell (illustrations by Joe Hox)

A new series of hardback, illustrated children's books for three-to eight-year-olds each centered on an animal family bring gospel help and biblical counsel to families. The animal characters, colorful illustrations, and the real-life issues each animal family face will captivate children. The first three books address anxiety, anger, and failure, bringing biblical help and hope to issues every child faces.

The last page contains information for parents on how God, in his Word, helps us turn to Jesus when we are sad. Together children and parents will be guided into meaningful conversations about living by faith in the details of everyday life. Also included is a tear-out page of Back Pocket Bible Verses that will give children a practical way to remember God's words when they are sad.

Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much by David Powlison

My thoughts:  This story of Gus and his uncontrolled desires or "wants" is illustrated with cute woodsy critters - the raccoons - and lovely scenes as they address the issue of Gus and his insatiable desires.

The story is sweet (just like Gus' candy) and the family environment is strong. But soon, Gus resorts to taking what he wants instead of its being given to him or purchasing it. Eventually, his father discovers Gus' problem and handles it with love and teaches the child about repentance and forgiveness.

A sweet story and well done.

About the book: Gus, a raccoon who loves all things sweet, learns what happens when you want something too much. After Gus gets caught taking candy from the store, Papa reminds him that temptation might be strong for us, but it s not too strong for Jesus. Both Gus and Papa can ask Jesus for help when they want something too much.

Henry Says Good-bye: When You Are Sad by Edward T. Welch

My thoughts:  This is a beautifully illustrated book filled with critters and lovely scenes. The illustrations are perfect for the story told where Henry the Hedgehog (home is in a hedge) loses his pet ladybug. He is first sad and then angry at this loss of his beloved pet.

His father consoles him and leads him in understanding loss and how "God is close to those with a broken heart."

A lovely story and will help children who have lost pets or loved ones understand. It will also help those who have not experienced loss understand help those who have.

About the book: Henry the hedgehog loves his pet ladybug. She keeps him company and entertains him, his family, and his friends with her flying tricks. But one day, he has to say good-bye to his ladybug. Henry and his whole family are sad, but they learn to go to Jesus with their sadness and ask him to comfort them.

Tori Comes Out of Her Shell: When You Are Lonely by Jayne V. Clark

My thoughts:  Shyness is hard at anytime and produces anxiety on a variety of levels to those shy individuals coping with it. Tori the turtle was not different from the shy child or introvert adult. Both face their personal fears.

Sure enough, going to her new school brought out the shyness and fear of the new people and place. Her teacher came to the rescue an shared how she, too, had overcome a similar problem.

The story has a strong Christian message about God being your friend and sticking with you at all times.

Terrific illustrations from Joe Hox that bring out the story in vivid scenes of woodland critters as Tori and friends live the story.

About the book: Tori the turtle feels all alone. She has just moved to a new pond and a new school with her family and it seems like everyone has a friend except her. Her teacher notices she feels alone and helps her remember Jesus is always her friend and then along the way she makes some new friends. The last page contains information for Christian parents on how God, in his Word, helps us turn to Jesus when we are lonely. Together children and parents will be guided into meaningful conversations about living by faith in the details of everyday life. Also included is a tear-out page of Back Pocket Bible Verses that will give children a practical way to remember God's words when they feel all alone.

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

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Moon is Always Round by Jonathan Gibson

My thoughts:  A picture book about a young family, and the father in conversation with his young son sharing that even though you can't always see it, "the moon is always round." This is used to convey the concept of God's love never changing, even when you can't see all of it.

The idea is instilled repeatedly by father to child that "the moon is always round" even in the face of loss. In this book's story, the young family is expecting a new addition but there is the sadness of losing that young baby and not being able to bring it home.

So the story is a good book for one who has experienced loss, but I don't see this as a book for the typical family. Even for reading to a child who has lost a friend or a grandparent, it might not be appropriate. But for the way it is written it would be appropriate.

The overall message is very good. It is that you'll be ok ..... because "the moon is always round" and that conveys the idea that God is also unchanging.

About the book: Even young children want answers to the hard questions about God and suffering. In The Moon Is Always Round, seminary professor and author Jonathan Gibson uses the vivid imagery of the moon to explain to children how God’s goodness is always present, even when it might appear to be obscured by upsetting or difficult circumstances.

In this beautiful, full-color illustrated book, he allows readers to eavesdrop on the conversations he had with his young son in response to his sister’s death. Father and son share a simple liturgy together that reminds them that, just as the moon is always round despite its different phases, so also the goodness of God is always present throughout the different phases of life.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Book of Kings: Magnificent Monarchs & The Book of Queens: Legendary Leaders from National Geographic [Giveaway]

As with other highly varied titles published by National Geographic Kids Books, they continue to provide books of high interest subject matter, thoroughly researched, beautifully designed, and critically acclaimed.

The following books on Kings and Queens are exceptionally beautiful, interesting, and will bring much to delight and fascinate young readers. Well, let's include the adults in that circle of readers because they, too, will find much to tweak their interest.

I was totally surprised that National Geographic grouped leaders in a variety of fields as kings or queens. They included those highly successful in the arts, in business, in athletics not just ruling monarchs of countries from the ancient past to present time. This lent a bit of surprise adding success as a key ingredient in becoming recognized as a "royal."

The Book of Kings: Magnificent Monarchs, Notorious Nobles and More Distinguished Dudes Who Ruled the World  (ages 8-12, HC, $14.99)

"A wide-angled survey of men who ruled—and not just empires or countries....roster also shows commendable racial and geographic diversity" - Kirkus


The Book of Queens: Legendary Leaders, Fierce Female and More Wonder Women Who Ruled the World (ages 8-12, HC, $14.99)

"A united nations of leading ladies of the past and present, commingled with luminaries in the arts, sciences, and annals of piracy…A carefully diverse roster of "dominant dames" demonstrably capable of breaking gender molds” - Kirkus

They're kings and queens wielding scepters and sitting on thrones, they're revolutionaries on the front lines of change, they're presidents and prime ministers leading their nations, or they're CEOs, scientists, sports legends, and artists who rose to the top of their fields.

In The Book of Kings and The Book of Queens, being a mighty monarch doesn't just mean wearing a crown. Leaders like these come from all over the globe and have different talents.

From Henry VIII to Steve Jobs to Lin-Manuel Miranda and Elizabeth I to Cleopatra to Beyonce and more, every regal ruler in these books showcase the kind of guts, smarts, and strength it takes to lead. And while there are some kings and queens who are very recognizable, others may leave you wondering why so many brave, smart, and hardworking people have gone unnoticed ... until now.

Whether real-life royals or average Janes and Joes who rose to rule, their stories are sure to inspire.

While I really like this book, I think that parents will need to make certain that young readers truly understand the difference between a ruling monarch and a high ranking individual in a field of endeavor. Also, the difference between fictional rulers in books or on the screen and true ruling monarchs.

Begins December 11
Ends January 9 at 12:01 a.m ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Faith Forward Family Devotional by Ruth & Patrick Schwenk

Description: Raise faith-filled kids who know, love, and live for God. Patrick and Ruth Schwenk have written 100 devotions for families to do together, at your own pace. Each devotion includes:

  • A Bible passage—from Genesis to Revelation
  • Teaching applicable for kids of any age
  • A key idea to learn and remember about God
  • Questions designed to spark family discussion
  • Guided prayer for the entire family
  • Grow closer to your kids as they grow closer to God in Faith Forward Family Devotional.

In Faith Forward Family Devotional, Patrick and Ruth help you pass on your faith with devotions you can do at your own pace as a family.  Faith Forward Family Devotional is aimed primarily at families of kids ages 8–12 but also includes ideas for activities for younger children and recommendations for further study for older kids, so the whole family can join in the devotional gathering.

Faith Forward Family Devotional helps you grow closer to your kids as they grow closer to God. Whatever season of parenting you are in, sharing this devotional time together will help your children nourish a faith that lasts a lifetime. 

#1 New Release in Christian Family & Relationships

My thoughts:   The publisher and artist have done a grand job on the design of this book of devotions for the family. First, it is well made with sturdy hard cover and binding and the pages are nice and sturdy as well. The cover is beautiful in a gentle, lovely fashion and the background of the cover is a moonlit night and a family silhouetted. The title "Faith Forward" I believe might have been selected primarily because the aim of having family devotions is to share the faith of the parents with their children. Sort of a "pay-it-forward" idea. Quite appropriate.

The inside of the book is primarily text with just a few colorful corner images. The Scripture for the day's lesson is nicely explained without being too theologically deep yet covering enough that it is fitting for older children (and parents) as well as being understandable for younger family members.

The devotionals themselves also include a brief prayer and a "key idea" as it connects to the subject. I especially liked the devotional on page 100 - "God Is Holy" because I think that we sometimes don't stress to ourselves and to those in our care that God is Holy and should be worshiped with our whole heart. He is sinless. He is perfect. He is mighty. He is Holy.

The devotionals also cover the beginning at Creation. God's love. Love. Compassion. And many others. A total of 100 devotionals. The title of the first is "God Creates,"  and the title of the last is "A New Heaven and A New Earth."

I think this is a lovely family devotional book and one that will be a joy and pleasure to use.


Enter to win a copy - click here - ends 12/15/19 

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

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Treasury of Bible Stories written by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Christina Balit from National Geographic [Review & Giveaway]

Treasury of Bible Stories written by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Christina Balit (ages 8-12, HC, $24.99)

My thoughts: Big, beautifully illustrated, covering Biblical Old Testament stories written in a story-telling fashion aptly describes this National Geographic publication.

Usually, I prefer to read and/or endorse Biblical books - fiction as well as non-fiction - from Christian publishing houses. National Geographic is well-known for its superb coverage of World events, historical finds, geographic  discoveries, and fantastic pictures and publications. However, they do dip their toe (metaphorically speaking) into the deep waters of religion from time to time. And this is somewhat of a natural transition since much of the archaeological discoveries support and lend credence to the narrative contained in the ancient scriptures within the pages of Jewish and Christian holy books.

As a Christian, I read anything that is relative to my own personal faith with an open mind and heart seeking to know and share the truth as I discover it and see it. I believe the introduction to this Treasury of Bible Stories speaks well to the author's research and consultation with scholars in the field of Biblical studies. I have found this book to be an interesting and well done journey through the well known stories from the Old Testament.

Consultation with Helen Plotkin, Director of study of Classical Jewish Texts at Swarthmore College, who also teaches courses in Biblical Hebrew and Classical Hebrew texts lends valid authority to interpretation of the lyrical story telling of the author, Donna Jo Napoli.

The book's back matter includes a map of the Lands of the Bible typical of that which is found in many Bibles. Also included are a timeline, a section on People of the Bible (short paragraph bios), an extensive bibliography, and index.

I like this beautiful book quite a bit because it contains so much and is told in a beautiful story style. The additional information by National Geographic helps for a better understanding the time and people.

About the book: "Napoli brings her literary eye to yet another ancient tradition.  Balit's bold illustrations accompany each tale and feature a diversity of skin tone that reflects the many lands from northeast Africa to the Middle East where the drama unfolds… Sidebars throughout add historical and scientific context to the stories presented while backmatter includes maps, timelines, and brief biographies of the major players. A worthy cultural treasury with appeal to both the faithful and irreligious.” — Kirkus

Noah's Ark, Moses, David and Goliath, the ten plagues, Daniel and the lions' den, Jonah and the giant fish, and many more of the Bible's most powerful stories — 27 in all — are compellingly retold in this beautifully illustrated treasury. Readers will be fascinated by the ancient people and events they encounter, surprised by some of the lesser known accounts revealed, and inspired by the lessons these tales impart. Stories cover important ground beyond religion, such as culture, history, and geography, and they touch on issues that remain relevant today--faith, loyalty, kindness, violence, generosity, greed, jealousy, and more. These accessible, readable stories give kids a rich picture of biblical times, which encourages them to think about our role in the world and to learn more.
Begins December 8
Ends January 6 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
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.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Fabulous Wonder Seed Products Contain Healing Hemp Seed Oil. Now 'Gift-With-Purchase" & Giveaway (limited offer)

Previously, I reviewed The Wonder Seed company's products facial scrub and their shampoo and conditioner. I found these to be elegant and refreshing products. Products I am happy to share with guests in my home and use myself.

The Wonder Seed line of products are an organic hemp oil body care line. They were awarded the Natural Health Magazine Beauty Award for "Best Hand Cream." This is the same hand cream I am featuring today here on Chat With Vera.

When you order The Wonder Seed product/s from
you can get a "gift-with-purchase" of a tube of their great Wonder Seed Hand Cream.
NOTE: My shampoo & conditioner are almost used up. Loving them!

My readers know that I represent the Good Earth Beauty online store of natural products and they sell The Wonder Seed Hemp Seed Oil products as well as other major brands and their own Exclusive line. See here 


My thoughts:  This is a lovely hand cream. It is non-greasy. Absorbs quickly. Feels very refreshing. Knowing it is made of pure, natural products as well as the healing hemp seed oil provides me with an inner peace knowing that I am applying ingredients that will not harm and have the potential to help and heal.

Creamy smoothness that has softening, healing properties.
Natural goodness.

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  • 100% Vegan & Gluten Free
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Ingredients: Purified Water (Aqua), Organic Virgin Hemp Seed Oil, Grape Essential Oil, Organic Water Lotus Essential Oil, Organic Water Lotus Blossom Extract, Grape Seed Oil, Organic Aloe Vera, Gingko Herbal Extract, Glycerin (Vegetable), Soluble Natural Plant Collagen, Jojoba Oil, Cetyl Alcohol (Coconut Oil Based), Soybean Oil (Non-GMO), Mandarin White Oil, Coconut Oil, Ginseng Extract, Stearyl Alcohol (Vegetable Based), Geranium Oil, Chamomile Oil, Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract, Beta Carotene, Organic Green Tea Extract, Potassium Stearate (Natural Plant Based), Hyaluronic Acid (Natural Plant Based), Carnauba Wax, Squalane (Olive Oil Based), Borage Seed Oil, Vegetable Glyceryl Stearate (Natural Plant Based), Behenic Acid (Natural Plant Based), Lauric Oil Extract, Nutmeg Oil Extract, Citrus Extract and Sea Salt

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DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given after I have personally used it. Winner's prize is provided and shipped by publicist or directly to the winner

A Cross To Kill (Shepherd Suspense #1) by Andrew Huff from Kregel Publications [Giveaway}

My thoughts:  I'll admit the cover wasn't necessarily a "come on" to me with its stark red, black, and white graphic and the title was a bit of a put off as well. But after reading the book's premise or back cover matter and knowing the publisher, Kregel, was tops, I committed to reviewing the book.

This isn't your typical Christian fiction that appeals to ladies. This one is so action-packed, and mind-bending that it will soon be a favorite of men who enjoy a fast paced read with the element of faith an integral part.

The first 28 pages were breath taking, action packed, nail-biting with its terse, rapid fire narrative of an exfil or rescue.

Then the book has a few pages of normal - if the CIA, spies, and terrorists can be considered normal - paced interlude setting the stage for the life and actions of the main character, John Cross. He is known by a code name for his work with the CIA. But he is also lovingly known as pastor of a small church.

A bit of romance is mingled within the main thread of the story.

This is the first in a three book series (I think) and the promise of exciting adventures to come incites compelling anticipation. Next is Cross Shadow (Shepherd Suspense 2) and I look forward to its release

About the book: John Cross is a small-town pastor, bent on leading his flock to follow God's calling. He's not the sort of man one would expect to have a checkered past.

But the truth is that the man behind the pulpit preaching to his sheep was once a wolf--an assassin for the CIA. When John decided to follow Christ, he put that work behind him, determined to pay penance for all the lives he took. He vowed never to kill again.

Now someone wants the peaceful pastor to pay for his sins with his own life. And when a terrorist out for revenge walks into the church, John's secrets are laid bare. Confronted with his past, he must face his demons and discover whether a man can truly change. Can he keep his vow--even when the people he loves are in mortal danger? Will his congregation and the brave woman he's learning to care for be caught in the cross fire? In the end, his death may be the only sacrifice he has left to offer .

Andrew Huff's thrilling debut is not only a riveting story of suspense, it's also a deep exploration of the moral quandaries that face those who choose to follow the Prince of Peace in a violent world.

About the Author:  Andrew Huff spent 10 years in local church ministry before pursuing God’s calling into creative storytelling and media production as the Product Director at Igniter Media, a church media company ( He is a two-time finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest for unpublished authors (2014 & 2017) and also won the Best Screenplay award at the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival in Richmond, VA.

Andrew holds a Bachelor of Science in Religion degree from Liberty University and a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary. He resides in North Texas with his beautiful wife Jae and their two boys.

I can't wait to read the next books in this exciting series

Nov. 19-Dec. 10
Hosted by: Read with Audra
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DISCLOSURE: Giveaway is hosted on I Read With Audra and details are available from that source. I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions in my review are mine, alone and are freely given.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Tony Evans Study Bible from Holman Publishing [Review & Giveaway - Ends Dec. 10)

I am honored to review the Tony Evans Study Bible. This is a beautifully crafted Bible from reputable Holman publishing house. The theme (if one can title it such) of this edition is "Advancing God's Kingdom Agenda."

A Perfect Christmas Gift for Someone Special in Your Life!

My personal thoughts: The first "study Bible" I can recall is the one my father used and later passed on to me. It was the Scofield Reference Bible which was published in the King James Version and held notes by Dr. Scofield, eminent orator and preacher, indexed to the verses.. I loved that Bible and the insightful notes. That came out around 1916 or so and in the 1950s was still the "go to" study Bible. I have my own newer copy of this same "Old Scofield Bible" but a couple of other study Bibles as well.

It is interesting to see the way publishers are gearing their Bible printing with study helps to various audiences - boys, girls, children, teens, women, men. That is good, but it is also good to have a Bible that is appropriate for any and all.

Several years ago I began to hear the name "Tony Evans" dropped as a preacher that was worth listening to. He was making a difference. I heard one sermon by him on YouTube upon recommendation of a relative. I was quite impressed, although my being impressed was not what was important. What was important was his adherence to the Word of God, his clear and concise delivery, and the influence he had on his listeners.

The Tony Evans Study Bible is in the Christian Standard Bible version which is fast becoming a standard in Baptist churches. I'm still partial to the King James, but do see the value in this newer version. In this new study Bible, there are features you'll see in most study Bibles -- concordance, maps, etc. There are also articles by Tony Evans, devotionals, a harmony of the Gospels, etc. So much to use to glean nuggets of gold more readily from the richness of God's Word.

Beautifully bound in leathertouch and with thin, paper the feel of this Bible in your hands is that of quality and perfection. Black and Brown Leathertouch cover is soft and flexible. The Bible has a "hefty" feel but is comfortable in my hands.

There are modern, technological links in the print version and you can use the QReader on your mobile to access short comments. Example: The QReader for the Introduction to the Book of Exodus is just over 4 minutes in length where Tony Evans gives a visual intro to that Book of the Old Testament.

NOTE: QReader to scan
for video comments

About the Tony Evans Study Bible: 
The Tony Evans Study Bible, which includes extensive study notes and other ancillary resources to assist in both men’s and women’s Bible study that are carefully crafted and curated by Dr. Tony Evans as General Editor and adapted from his sermons, teachings, and writings. These features are strategically placed alongside the biblical text to explain God’s Word in a fresh way. Applying these truths will empower readers to have transformed lives and transfer the values of the kingdom of God to others.

Features include:

  •  Elegant design
  •  Study notes crafted from Tony Evans sermons and writings
  • 40 inspirational articles
  • 50 “Lessons on Kingdom Living”
  • Plethora of “Questions & Answers”
  • Numerous "Hope Words”
  • Over 150 videos of sermons
  • Devotionals, and teaching from Dr. Evans, page-edge cross-reference system
  • Black-letter text
  • Presentation page and introductory front matter
  • Special back matter section with key definitions
  • Theological and doctrinal charts, and other study helps
  • Concordance
  • Bible reading plan
  • Full-color maps 

ENTER GIVEAWAY - CLICK HERE Simple to enter - name, email ENDS 12/10/19


Places to learn more.....

Tony Evans Website:
Tony Evans Facebook:
Tony Evans Twitter:
Tony Evans Instagram:

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy from the publisher or its representative to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone, and are freely given.

Monday, December 2, 2019

My God Loves Me Bible & My Bedtime Bible Prayers from Kregel Publishing Children's Books

My Bedtime Bible Prayers by Karoline Pahus Pedersen

My thoughts:  This little book will set the habit in young children's hearts and minds to turn their heart toward God in the evening (or any time) as they prepare for their evening rest. Each two-page spread has a heading - "Make A Difference," " "God Is With Us," etc. - a Bible verse, and a short prayer. Each thought appropriate to the Bible verse.

Beautifully written and perfect for young minds to grasp. Allowing these young ones to absorb the right amount of information for their age.

Right sized for young hands with softly padded cover and sturdy pages, and illustrated in simple pictures and blocks of text the book will appeal to the children and soon become a favorite.

I highly recommend this book. Kregel's children's books are always hits with me and I have never been disappointed.

About the book:  Encourages Bible reading and prayer as a natural part of any nighttime routine

This unique book contains 44 prayers, each based on a Bible verse and Bible story, along with a takeaway question. With this caring guidance, children ages 6-8 will learn to share their hearts and thoughts with God—​​​​​​​while also discovering how much He loves them!

My God Loves Me Bible by Cecilie Fodor

My thoughts:  This is an adorable little book for young toddlers. The construction of the book will take a lot of handling with its board pages, softly padded cover, and great handle to facilitate little ones carrying it about.

Though compact in style it covers the Love of God for His Creation by citing verses from the Bible and elaborating on them sufficiently for the young child to grasp the theme of God's love that flows throughout the Bible.

My God Love Me
He is my safe place in hard time
The God of the Faithful (Daniel 6:13-23)
Daniel loved God and prayed to Him three times a day, but this was against the rules....... ......

I highly recommend this charming, educational book for young ones. This is another of the Kregel Publishing children's books. I have not yet been disappointed in their children's books.

About the book:  This colorful book unpacks the wonderful truth that each child is loved by God

Through popular Bible stories, this colorful book unpacks the wonderful truth that each child is loved by God—​​​​​​​and underscores exactly how. Each of the eighteen Bible stories chosen by author Cecilie Fodor speaks uniquely about God's love, backed by additional Scripture references that emphasize the specific truth found in the reading. Together with the heartwarming illustrations, these retellings give children a firm understanding of the Bible message: that God's love for the world and everyone in it led Him to send Christ to save us.

Every child is precious in God's eyes. With this Bible in their hands, they'll be able to confidently say, "My God loves me!" and understand what that means.
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary books to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.