Tuesday, December 29, 2020

It's Winter! It's frosty! It's time for soothing peppermint [Review & Giveaway]

The folks at Good Earth Beauty Exclusives' webstore have developed a lovely line of all natural and vegan products to care for your hands, lips, and aromatherapy candles; and each is steeped in essential oils and ingredients that you can trust and that really do the job for which they are intended.




Enter lovely mints!......


HAND CREAM FROSTY PEPPERMINT LUSH & HYDRATING from GOOD EARTH BEAUTY EXCLUSIVES


As with each and every Good Earth Beauty Exclusives hand cream, this is a totally enjoyable experience on one's hands, arms, neck, shoulders. Totally refreshing and so enriching for my hands and other portions of my skin.

This lavish, modern hand cream repairs dry skin and cuticles, leaving behind the tropical scent of Peppermint. It heals cracked skin, you only need a small drop of this cream, which has aloe, macadamia-seed and olive oils, and shea butter. It's deceptively thin for such a hydrating formula, and it leaves hands soft and supple for the entire day.  4 oz Tube Made in small batches in the USA by Good Earth Beauty Price: $14.00
Free of: parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors.

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

ALL NATURAL SOY CANDLE FROSTY PEPPERMINT by GOOD EARTH BEAUTY EXCLUSIVES


Yesterday, I totally enjoyed the ambiance of this lovely, delicately scented mint candle. It's soft glow and gentle aroma was quite pleasing and lent a touch of grace to my day.

This 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. Made in small batches in the USA by Good Earth Beauty. Price: $13.00

This one is Frosty Peppermint perfect gift to bring to hostess or for birthdays & events.
Free of:  parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors

IngredientsPurified 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


LIP BALM - FULL COLLECTION - NATURAL VEGAN - CHOOSE A FLAVOR


Featuring the "Cool Mint" Lip Balm from Good Earth Beauty today and it is lovely. If you like mint - anything - you will most likely enjoy this treasure.

Vegan - natural -  soothing and moisturizing - helps heal chapped lips

Choose from 16 fun, original scents - Candy Hearts, Bubble Gum, Coconut, Candy cane mint, chocolate mint, vanilla mint, vanilla marshmallow, jelly beans, candy corn, frosted gingerbread, pink lemonade, strawberry, sugar cookie, vanilla lemon cupcake or pumpkin pie! Made by Good Earth Beauty. Price: $6.25 
IngredientsMeadowfoam oil, olive oil, avocado butter, candellia wax, vitamin E, natural flavor oil

 Shop using..... 

DISCOUNT CODE: VERA10 
for a 10% discount!
Shipping is FREE for USA orders.
GIVEAWAY
1 Each: Cool Mint Lip Balm & Frosty Peppermint Soy Candle
Begins December 29
Ends January 25, 2021 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided products to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and sent by publicist for GoodEarthBeauty.com.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

These are "berry" good for your lips: Fizz & Bubble Lip Scrub & Good Earth Beauty's Lip Balm [Review & Giveaway]

We're told to eat our fruits and veggies and that those that are dark blue or red are high in antioxidants. Also, that antioxidants are good for our health and our immune systems. Perhaps we can also assume that essential oils derived from berries are helpful for the care of our lips.
Do berries have antioxidants?

Antioxidants are believed to protect the body from free radicals that may cause chronic diseases. In the diet, antioxidants are especially found in fresh fruits and vegetables, and are most commonly found in berries. Many studies show that purple berries have the highest amount of antioxidants. (found at wisegeek.com)


The good folks at Good Earth Beauty's web store carry a plethora of brands made with natural and vegan ingredients and a veritable host of products that care for our skin. We're looking at a couple of lip products today that feature "berries."

LIP BALM ALL NATURAL VEGAN STRAWBERRY GOOD EARTH BEAUTY

Buy it - click here

Vegan - natural -  soothing and moisturizing - helps heal chapped lips. Seasonal scents Great for all seasons. Slather over your lips for the cool feeling of eating a fresh strawberry. Sweet flavor. Made by Good Earth Beauty in USA. Price: $6.25 

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

LIP SCRUB ASSORTED FLAVORS FIZZ & BUBBLE


Shop here

A touch of blissful magic in a jar, our best-selling Lip Scrubs are designed to soften and sweeten your smile. You'll quickly enjoy exfoliating benefits, a little a burst of color and a sweet tingly taste. Select from five flavorful scents. Boosted with essential  healing oils, richly formulated and purely fun! 
Sparkly sugar crystals

1 Ounce Jar Price $10.99 by Fizz & Bubble.

Free of animal ingredients and unnecessary chemicals. Made with all-natural and biodegradable ingredients. Eco-friendly. Not tested on animals. Child-safe.

Shop using..... 
DISCOUNT CODE: VERA10 
for a 10% discount!
Free Ground Shipping for Christmas delivery ends 12/14.
Normally shipping is always FREE for USA orders.

GIVEAWAY
1 Each: Strawberry Lip Balm & Fizz & Bubble Lip Scrub
Begins December 16
Ends January 10 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided products to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and sent by publicist for GoodEarthBeauty.com.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Last call for seasonal Pacha Pumpkin Bar Soap at Good Earth Beauty

NATURAL PUMPKIN HARVEST by PACHA SOAP - A Staff Favorite!

I tried out the Pumpkin Harvest bar soap from Pacha when bathing. It lathered beautifully and the scent is gentle and pleasant. It feels lovely to wash with and and my skin doesn't have that drawn or dried feel. Lovely! I've enjoyed every Pacha product I've ever used and highly recommend them. When you use them, you're doing something good for your skin, the environment, and people across the globe with ethical initiatives. 

This Harvest Pumpkin Bar is......  

One of Good Earth Beauty's top sellers, this sweet smelling blend is handcrafted for a truly luxurious lather. Use on your hands, face and body!

Picked straight from the patch, our seasonal Pumpkin Harvest bar soap is crafted with exfoliating ginger root powder, moisturizing pumpkin puree and organic maple syrup to keep your skin feelin’ “vine”!

Pacha bar soaps are zero waste and crafted with sustainably sourced palm oil, so they’re good for you and even better for Mama Earth.

Every Pacha Soap Co. purchase supports ethical sourcing, clean water initiatives, hygiene education and small business opportunities worldwide. Purchases help fuel clean water initiatives, small-scale soap shops and other sustainable ventures in developing countries! 


BENEFITS
  • Cleansing
  • Moisturizing
  • Exfoliating
  • SCENT

Ingredients: 

  • Sustainably Sourced Palm Oil Harvested by small farmers using organic, ethical growing practices
  • Olive Oil Packed with nourishing Vitamin E
  • Castor Oil Natural humectant that helps skin retain water
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil Rich in Vitamin E & fatty acids to help skin retain moisture
  • Pumpkin Puree Nutrient-rich to deeply moisturize & restore skin
  • Ginger Root Powder Gently exfoliates the skin
  • Maple Extract Naturally moisturizes skin

Pumpkin & maple: sweet, warm, spicy 4 oz., $7.00 each

Shop before current supplies are gone with 
DISCOUNT CODE: VERA10 
for a 10% discount!
Free Ground Shipping for Christmas delivery ends 12/14.
Normally shipping is always FREE for USA orders.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a product to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. 

Dreams for Our Daughters by Ruth Doyle & illustrated by Ashling Lindsay [Review & Giveaway]

 

ISBN: 9780802855589
Eerdmans Books for
Young Readers
My thoughts:  A lovely, whimsical book that is an encouragement to girls to dream, believe, achieve because they can do what they dream of doing.

While I don't particularly care for the "guiding star" aspect, I recognize the intent is for the child to imagine greatly and believe they can do things. 

I love the word of caution..... "Be a fearless defender, a honey bee with armor-- guarding against the false-charmers and harmers." Superb advice.

While the poetic story seems to encourage a "save the World" ecology goal, taken as a whole, it is only a part of the totality of this sweet book. A book to encourage one to dream, seek to accomplish, don't settle for less, etc.

A nice addition to libraries.

About the book: What hopes do you have for the future? Who do you long to become? This empowering book encourages young girls to become leaders unafraid to stand up for themselves and others. The world’s been waiting for them, and there’s so much to discover! Warm, loving rhymes and tenderly detailed illustrations help readers imagine the thousands of adventures up ahead. Each new day is a chance to become a keeper of kindness and a champion of change, an imaginative explorer who listens well and speaks the truth. Dreams for Our Daughters is a book girls will treasure throughout their lives.
GIVEAWAY
Begins December 12
Ends January 2 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and sent directly to the winner by Eerdmans' Publishing or its representative.


Friday, December 11, 2020

Last call for popular pumpkin products from Good Earth Beauty online shop [Review & Giveaway]

Surely you knew that "pumpkin spice" is an aroma to be enjoyed at Christmas and during the Winter as well as the Fall of the year!



One of the delights of spicy and pumpkin inspired products is sitting around enjoying the emotionally relaxing scent as it wafts around you. Good Earth Beauty has several of the Good Earth Beauty Exclusives brand "pumpkin" items and  this delightful little candle and it is all natural and vegan.


Pumpkin Spice Soy Candle - All Natural


I am currently using this candle in my living room with decorations in the background. Small but with a hint of spice that gives that warmth to a room.

This little soy candle will surely bring a delight to you in your home with its sensory experience of a visually warm glow and the wafting fragrance inspired by spicy foods being prepared. Good Earth Beauty Exclusive's fantastic Pumpkin Spice Natural Soy Candle is a lovely touch for your home.

This makes a delightful gift for someone to whom you wish to bring a bit of joy. Or what better person to gift it to than yourself.

This is something you simply don't want to miss out on. You can look over the other candles, too, and find other delights. Buy it - click here

Product information: Our 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.  

This Pumpkin Spice Soy Candle is a  perfect Autumn gift to bring to hostess or for Fall birthdays & events. Be sure your get yours before they disappear.


Free of:  parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors.  Glass jar - 4 Ounces - Burn Time 20 Hours. Made in small batches in the USA by Good Earth Beauty Price $13.00

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


Pumpkin Pie Lip Balm 


As I write this, I have slathered some Good Earth Beauty Exclusives' Pumpkin Pie Lip Balm over my lips. This stuff is so fantastically good. I simply love using it because it feels good, nourishes my lips, and simply gives me a "feel good" moment. I love sharing these with my grand daughters, daughters, and a friend in a nursing home. These are tremendously popular as stocking stuffers and party favors.

When your lips need a bit of help for softening them there is the option of this refreshing and moisturizing lip application. Ingredients: Meadowfoam oil, olive oil, avocado butter, candellia wax, vitamin E, natural flavor oil.

While you wait to see if your entry will win, 
you can shop with 
DISCOUNT CODE: VERA10 
for a 10% discount!
Free Ground Shipping for Christmas delivery ends 12/14.
Normally shipping is always FREE for USA orders.

GIVEAWAY
1 Each: Pumpkin Lip Balm & Pumpkin Candle
Begins December 11
Ends January 5 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.


DISCLOSURE: I was provided products to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and sent by publicist for GoodEarthBeauty.com.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Ottoman Dominion (#3 in Empires of Armageddon) by Terry Brennan from Kregel Publications [Giveaway USA Nov. 17-Dec.8]


My thoughts:  
Ottoman Dominion, book #3 in the Empires of Armageddon, is by far the most enjoyable and exciting read of the three books in this series. The first two books were difficult to follow and comprehend because of the extremely convoluted political, religious, and overt intrigue involving several nations and the belief systems of each. 

Being more familiar with the main characters, I was able to follow this fast paced thriller as the series is brought to a conclusion. The spiritual realm that is heavily involved in this series, and particularly in book #3, is daunting, frightening, and gives one a feeling of awe for the spiritual warfare being waged.

I highly recommend this series, but caution that it might be a convoluted read, might take you to spiritual thought of which you are not familiar, and will definitely give you a drive to consider the news in an entirely different perspective.

About the book: Diplomatic Security Service agent Brian Mullaney wants out. He's been drawn against his will into a dangerous international mission with world-ending implications--and his final assignment is going to pit him directly against the terrifying, evil entity known only as the Turk.

But when the Turk's minions breach the US embassy in Israel and the American ambassador disappears, Mullaney has no choice. He must accept his role as the final guardian of a mysterious box, his only weapon against the powers of darkness bent on preventing the second coming of the Messiah, no matter who or what they annihilate to accomplish their goal. Can this man who's already lost so much find the strength and faith to save the world--and fulfill the prophecy of peace?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The final volume of the Empires of Armageddon trilogy will have fans of Joel Rosenberg, Ronie Kendig, and Frank Peretti on the edge of their seats up to the final page.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Remembering Christmas past. . . (revisiting a previous year's post from "Chat With Vera")

Things I remember about Christmas past......


  • The tinkling of a child's music box as the tiny ballerina twirls in pink splendor.
  • The joy of seeing my children in new pajamas I had made for them.
  • The thrill on their face as they sing at the top of their voice during the church Christmas program.
  • The bedraggled child-shepherd walking down the aisle toward the babe in the manger as only a little one can do when robbed in a too big, plaid bathrobe with a towel wrapped around his head.
  • The high school student performing in "Who Stole Baby Jesus" and being so proud.
  • The cold of caroling at the grandparents after a three hour drive to get to their house.
  • The joy of small children opening mysterious packages wrapped with love and tenderness.
  • The weariness of  being a parent and still wrapping, in the middle of the night, those secretive treasures for her beloved children to receive on Christmas morning.
  • The twinkle in a grandfather's eyes as he watches his grandchildren unwrap a gift.
  • The small gift from a Sunday School teacher.
  • Singing in the choir as a high schooler and being so thrilled with the music.
  • Opening hymnals to the few pages of Christmas carols each year and singing the beloved favorites.
  • Hearing silly songs on the radio.
  • Hearing beautiful renditions of beloved, traditional Christmas carols.
  • Receiving a bike for Christmas as a child.
  • Looking at photographs, black and white of course, of Christmas as a child.
  • Stumbling into the train at the base of my parent's Christmas tree when I crept into the living room  under cover of darkness on Christmas Eve to try to peek.
  • Maturing and realizing that all the wrapping and all the glitz and all the sparkle is nothing compared to the joy that was brought to the World by the birth of this wee babe in a manage who is Christ the Lord and who came to Save us from our sins.

Dear friends, yes, I wrote this a year ago. But I wanted to share these memories with you once again and perhaps provoke you to dive deep into the recesses of your own memories to recall, recollect, and reminisce a bit. If you wish, share those memories in the comments...... 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Mary Seacole: Bound for the Battlefield by Susan Goldman Rubin, illustrated by Richie Pope


My thoughts: 
Children's picture book biographies are most always a favorite of mine because I simply love to introduce children to real people doing important things with their lives and contributing to mankind's journey.

Mary Seacole: Bound for the Battlefield was quite an interesting and eye-opening story. I had never heard of this lady-of-color who was so determined to do her part in caring for the sick and wounded.

At a time when women were not normally on the battlegrounds and in hospitals or rather treated respectfully in those arenas, this lady-of-color in her native Jamica began her journey at the feet of her mother who also was a healer. Mary Seacole learned to minister to, give tender care, use the available remedies of the time, bandage and sooth those ill, injured, and hurting. 

Into her adult life she began to journey seeking areas where she might nurse or bring care to those needing it. Repeatedly she was rebuffed. Not just because she was a woman but primarily because she was a lady-of-color.

Mary was mixed-race. This biographic picture book lets children see the caring personality of this woman who was so often rebuffed because of her color. It is a story of endurance. A story of perseverance. And a story of a time we should make certain is never repeated - being rebuffed because of the color of one's skin.

About the book: The life of pioneering Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole gets its dramatic due in a sweeping and stunning biography.

Mary Seacole spent much of her life on the front lines of the Crimean War, ministering to the wounded, caring for soldiers, and making her mark on the world of medicine. This fascinating biography honors Mary Seacole's life, from her childhood in Kingston, Jamaica, and her encounters with racist Americans to her treatment of cholera patients in Panama and her bitter run-in with Florence Nightingale, who declined to work with her in Crimea because she wasn't white. But Mary Seacole knew that the sick and wounded needed her compassion and care, and despite all obstacles, she answered the call to help them. Author Susan Goldman Rubin gives voice to this fearless nurse and healer through captivating details drawn from Mary Seacole's own writings, while debut illustrator Richie Pope vividly captures her service at the bedside and on the battlefield. Inspiring and engaging, this biography introduces a compelling heroine who rose above barriers to earn a place in history. 

GIVEAWAY
Begins December 3
Ends December 29 at 12:01 a.m EST
Open to USA/CANADA.
NO P.O. Boxes. Canadian winners must provide phone number.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prize is provided and sent directly to the winner by the publisher or publicist.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Picture books to ponder: "Bear" and "Winter" and a quirky "Half" book to tickle one's fancy [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

A Polar Bear in the Snow by Mac Barnett, Shawn Harris

My thoughts: If you've ever been to a zoo that has Polar Bears, you know they love to frolic in the water. But we can't see them in their natural habitat no matter how hard the zoos try to replicate it.

This picture book uses stark white on white, grey on white, and occasional black pen strokes to show a bear's trek across the polar region and he is going somewhere. We're kept guessing until he reaches the water into which he plunges and has a gay old time playing and frocking in the frigid waters. 

The game of "find the bear" on the pages and the sparse text make this a book where one's imagination can take flight.

A good book.

About the book: A majestic polar bear heads out on a mysterious walk in a dazzling, playful collaboration from an exciting pair of picture-book creators.

Follow a magnificent polar bear through a fantastic world of snow and shockingly blue sea. Over the ice, through the water, past Arctic animals and even a human…where is he going? What does he want? Acclaimed author Mac Barnett’s narration deftly balances suspense and emotion, as well as poignant, subtle themes, compelling us to follow the bear with each page turn. Artist Shawn Harris’s striking torn-paper illustrations layer white-on-white hues, with bolts of blue and an interplay of shadow and light, for a gorgeous view of a stark yet beautiful landscape. Simple and thought-provoking, illuminating and intriguing, this engaging picture book will have readers pondering the answer to its final question long after the polar bear has continued on his way.


If Winter Comes, Tell It I'm Not Here by Simona Ciraolo  

My thoughts: This delightful book takes a small boy through the seasons leading from summer's warmth and fun to the cold and sometimes dreary time of winter. His sister tells him winter is coming and he wants nothing to do with it.

The illustrations are fun and capture the essence of childhood fun during the seasons. I love the way winter is pictured at the end and the positive tone of the whole book.

About the book: Despite dire predictions about winter, a child is smitten by the season’s charms in this ode to living in the moment.

Nothing is better than summer, with its joys of swimming every day and eating ice cream. One little boy’s older sister tells him he’d better make the most of it, because summer is going to end soon. When winter comes, she assures him, it will be cold and dark, and the icy rain will turn to snow. They’ll be stuck on the sofa for days and won’t even dream of eating ice cream…. Simona Ciraolo’s expressive illustrations belie the bleak forecast with images of glowing autumn leaves, cozy couch snuggles, wintry play, and sweet desserts. A celebration of the changing of the seasons, this inviting tale shows how much fun can be found around every sunny—or snowy—corner.


In the Half Room by Carson Ellis


My thoughts:
Carson Ellis has a way with presenting the odd or quirky story and illustrations with which we frankly don't know what to do. So essentially when he gives us one of these to ponder, we and the children to whom we read must delve into our imagination to see where Mr. Ellis is leading us.

In the Half Room is not a book about math or fractions. Though one might see this aspect as a possibility. It is a time to see what half an object is. To draw one's mind to the half and not the whole.

He loses me when the "half a person" meets their "other half" to become one individual who then runs out the room. But at least it is a whole person. (Now adults can ponder what being half a person, half a mind, half an individual is like. But that is, of course, too philosophical for children - and some of us adults to ponder.)

While I can see some fun and imagination exercises in this book, it is a bit strange but not in a bad way. 

About the book: From the Caldecott Honor–winning creator of Home and Du Iz Tak? comes a gorgeous and quirky tale of a wholly extraordinary room where everything is a half.

The light of the half moon
Shines down on the half room…

The half room is full of half things. A half chair, a half cat, even half shoes—all just as nice as whole things. When half a knock comes on half a door, who in the world could it be? With inventive flair, Caldecott Honor winner Carson Ellis explores halves and wholes in an ingenious and thought-provoking picture book. Ink and gouache illustrations featuring wry detail and velvety textures conjure a dreamlike mood while leaving space for imagining. A celebration of the surreal and the serendipitous and the beauty of the two together, this brilliant picture book will have readers seeing halves with whole new eyes. 

GIVEAWAY
2 Winners, Each Win 3 Books
Begins November 29
Ends December 20  @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses
(NO P.O. Boxes. Canadian winners must provide phone number)
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prizes are provided and sent directly to the winner by publisher, Candlewick Press, or publicist.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Joy to the World By Carolyn Miller, Amanda Barratt, and Erica Vetsch


My thoughts: 
I do love a good Christmas story, and books with several novellas that are themed are especially delightful to read. In Joy to the World there are three lovely novellas set in England during the time known as Regency. These three stories take place around 1814.

The charm of the period and the social mores are intact as is the conversations between those of authority, ladies and gentlemen, hired laborers, etc. 

I have read other books by each of these authors and each time have found them to be totally enjoyable. This collection of novellas does not disappoint. 

I especially enjoyed meeting characters from previous novels by the authors. In Heaven and Nature Sing we have Edith's story. She is from the Elusive Miss Ellison (Regency Brides Collection). Love this.

In Far As the Curse Is Found we see the effects of war of long ago and how it affected the soldiers. I love how the female protagonist leads the man who is suffering back to the Bible and to acceptance of who and what he is post-war. Beautiful story.

In  The Wonders of His Love we venture forth with characters from Erica Vetsch's series Serendipity Series which I have loved. Overpowering in authority, the Dowager Duchess tries to manipulate Cilla into a marriage with an aristocrat whilst she is developing feelings for the itinerate artist engaged to paint the new Duke's and Duchess' portraits. A sweet story of love and breaking free of bounds of societies' restrictions. And this, too, was a sweet meet-again with previous story characters.

About the book: Inspirational Regency romance with a Christmas twist from three best-selling authors

In Joy to the World, three popular authors come together to offer a heartwarming collection of holiday Regency romance. Based on lines from a beloved Christmas carol, these three novellas in one book have depth, faith, and satisfying stories all packed into the perfect length for readers to curl up and take a brief break from their holiday busyness.

"Heaven and Nature Sing" by Carolyn Miller

Two music lovers, deeply devoted to each other, were on the brink of engagement when family circumstances drove them apart. How can they ever overcome their obligations and fears to find their way back into each other's arms?

"Far as the Curse is Found" by Amanda Barratt

One winter night, a woman struggling to provide for her illegitimate child encounters a scarred veteran of the Napoleonic Wars on the streets of London. Can love conquer the darkness of two broken pasts?

"Wonders of His Love" by Erica Vetsch

A Scots portrait painter with a hidden identity finds work at a noble manor house over the holidays. He never imagined he'd fall in love with the emotionally frozen widow there. Now he wants nothing more than to thaw her heart.

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

Andrea Bocelli - You'll Never Walk Alone (Believe Studio Session)

This magnificent song is one I remember from my youth. It is gaining momentum in these days of uncertainty. As Andrea Bocelli (remember, he has been blind all his life) sings it so beautifully, let the depth of its meaning and the majestic impact of the words AND music fill your being. 

Love it! Pass it on to someone you love. 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Lovely picture books dealing with loss and change: "The Boy and the Gorilla" & "Rain Before Rainbows" [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

The Boy and the Gorilla by Jackie Azua Kramer & illustrated by Cindy Derby (Hardcover ISBN: 9780763698324, Ages 4-8)


My thoughts:
Death can bring sorrow, grief, and lonliness at anytime and to anyone. It is hard to experience when one is an adult and even harder to experience the death of a loved one when you're a child and then to have the ability and opportunity to process that loved one's death.

The Boy and the Gorilla starts with the darkness and despondency of the death of a young boy's mother. They are leaving the gravesite and then are at home with people who are paying their respects. The colors and artwork are grey, black, blue and bespeak a heaviness of heart in the coloration and expressions.

As the story progresses this darkness expressed in the illustrations begins to brighten and give way to the promise of a brighter day ahead - slowly and surely.

As with children everywhere, this boy-child has an imaginary companion - "Gorilla." He is unobtrusive even with his massive size. He quietly responds to the statements and questions of "boy" with clearly stated truths. "Boy" seems to grasp the idea and comprehends.

This is a moving picture book that will help grieving adults reading to grieving children come to understand the reality of death, its inevitability for all living things, and how one can still have the lost loved one still with oneself in our activities, our thoughts, our memories.

A truly lovely book.

About the book: On the day of his mother’s funeral, a young boy conjures the very visitor he needs to see: a gorilla. Wise and gentle, the gorilla stays on to answer the heart-heavy questions the boy hesitates to ask his father: Where did his mother go? Will she come back home? Will we all die? Yet with the gorilla’s friendship, the boy slowly begins to discover moments of comfort in tending flowers, playing catch, and climbing trees. Most of all, the gorilla knows that it helps to simply talk about the loss—especially with those who share your grief and who may feel alone, too. Author Jackie Azúa Kramer’s quietly thoughtful text and illustrator Cindy Derby’s beautiful impressionistic artwork depict how this tender relationship leads the boy to open up to his father and find a path forward. Told entirely in dialogue, this direct and deeply affecting picture book will inspire conversations about grief, empathy, and healing beyond the final hope-filled scene.

 

Rain Before Rainbows by Smriti Prasadam-Halls & illustrated by David Litchfield (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536212839, Ages 4-8)


My thoughts:
The year 2020 has been frought with uncertainties, sadness, changes, troublesome issues, sadness, etc. Some have experienced great loss or unexpected trouble in a variety of ways. Children have lost the joy of childhood playing with others, school activities and associations. Just a hard year. You might say that, "2020 'rained on our parade'."

While Rain Before Rainbows was not written to help children deal with the issues of 2020, it certainly can help them realize that often there is the grey of a rainy day before the beauty of a bright, colorful rainbow.

The illustrations are stunning and beautifully present the evolution of beginning to ending of start to finish of night before bright day and so on.

An absolutely positive book with stunning illustrations and text that provides a hopeful and uplifting outlook on life. I heartily recommend. 

About the book: In this heartfelt story about courage, change, and moving on, a girl and her companion fox travel together away from a sorrowful past, through challenging and stormy times, toward color and light and life. Along the way they find friends to guide and support them, and when the new day dawns, it is full of promise. With gorgeous, richly realized illustrations and immense hope at its heart, Rain Before Rainbows holds out a ray of sunshine for anyone looking for light.

GIVEAWAY
2 Winners, Each Win Both Books
Begins November 16
Ends December 12 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses
(NO P.O. Boxes. Canadian winners must provide phone number)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prizes are provided and sent directly to the winner by publisher, Candlewick Press, or publicist.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Nothing Short of Wondrous (American Wonders Collection #2) by Regina Scott

My thoughts: 
I found it interesting to read a story in the Yellowstone National Park in the early days of America's settlement of the area. The strife to keep the park pristine and free of man's disruptive behavior was also interesting. I am glad for the early days when people realized the importance of caring for the natural wonders, geysers, bubbling steam and Sulphur pots, amazing forest, and the Buffalo or Bison who had already been so depleted. 

I found the story slow paced. The characters simply didn't grasp my attention but neither was there a true fault in the author's development of them. Simply, didn't engage me a lot.

The boy, Danny, was the exception. Who couldn't love this boy? 

I finished the book and can recommend it as a good, gentle read and it is especially one that would interest anyone who has visited the park area or who has an interest in nature preservation.

About the book: When a sassy widowed hotel owner partners with a world-weary cavalry officer to defend the country's first national park and save the last wild buffalo herd in Yellowstone from poachers, they discover that two wounded hearts can lead to one powerful love.

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

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Her Secret Song (Brides of Hope Mountain #3) by Mary Connealy

My thoughts:  Book 2 in the Brides of Hope Mountain ended with the oldest sister of the Nordegren girls, Ursula, remaining in an isolated, snowed-in cabin atop the mountain. Her fears of the world and of people overwhelming her.

As book 3 opens Ursula has lasted the winter in her self-imposed isolation and has a song in her heart. Music fills her being. But she senses a need to go down the mountain to where her sisters and a world of people abide.

Meeting an injured man, she reaches out to help him seek safety and cares for his many injuries. The story then brings Ursula and her sisters back together and their journey down the mountain begins.

Packed with welcome and awesomely witty storytelling, Her Secret Song brings a conclusion to this highly enjoyable, relaxing, and fun read. Author Mary Connealy coaxes out the funny and the impossible, the exciting and the mundane to bring a reader moments of totally enjoyable reading.

About the book: After a rough winter spent alone, Ursula Nordegren realizes she must overcome her fears of the outside world and begins a trek down Hope Mountain. Along the way she finds a badly wounded stranger and realizes God may have used her decision to leave as a way of saving the man.

Wax Mosby was climbing Hope Mountain in part to atone for his terrible choices. He was hired to drive out the Warden family and now knows he was duped. But when he's wounded during the climb, the last person he expects to rescue him is a beautiful blond woman with the voice of an angel.

As both Ursula and Wax weigh the costs of living new lives, the two find an unlikely bond. And they're joined by Ursula's sisters and the Warden family as the final showdown over the family ranch looms with the coming of spring.

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

Monday, November 2, 2020

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND? by Sam McBratney & illustrated by Anita Jeram [Review & Giveaway]

The first new Guess How Much I Love You picture-book story for 24 years!


My thoughts: 
The enchantment of story and picture from the joint work of Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram leap from the pages of this newest in the Nutbrown Hare stories.

Little Nutbrownbrown Hare is growning and venturing forth in search of a friend. He goes hither and yonder in his sweet search questioning "Will you be my friend?". Such a sweet and gentle story for your little ones to have read to them and for treasuring the joy of friendship as Little Nutbrown Hare does.

Parents and grandparents will love to present this sweet picturebook to their little ones. Those who grew up loving Big Nutbrown Hare and Guess How Much I Love You story will want a copy for their own keepsake. Such is the joy these stories bring the heart and mind.

Lovely!

About the book: One day Big Nutbrown Hare is busy, but Little Nutbrown Hare wants to play so he goes off exploring on his own. He discovers another hare in a puddle - then realizes it's his reflection. He spots his shadow and wants to race it - only to find it's just as fast as him. Then up on Cloudy Mountain he finally finds someone to play with: a little snow white hare called Tipps. And she's real! This lovely new story is a wonderful companion to the classic picture-book Guess How Much I Love You ; a charming tale about friendship with a delightful and original twist.

GIVEAWAY
Begins November 3
Ends November 27 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & Canada addresses . No P.O.Boxes
Canadian winners must provide phone number. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Friday, October 23, 2020

Natural Zensations Bar Soaps [Review & Giveaway - USA]

The "new kid on the block" is a brand new online webstore for natural soaps whose Grand Opening was October 10 - Natural Zensations. Their inventory of natural soaps are environmentally positive in that the ingredients are safe, natural, contain no artificial substances, and actually good for your skin. And... Made in the USA. Also, and this is quite important, NO PLASTICS are used for packaging. Their mission.....

“We have embarked on a personal mission to make a positive impact on our earth for future generations. Every step, however small, is significant. By creating an environmentally friendly soap, we believe that together we can be part of the solution instead of the pollution.“ (be sure you read the "Our Story" page - https://www.naturalzensations.com/our-story)


Their first soap was the Zage On Me. 


BODY BAR SOAP – ZAGE ON ME

Sparked by open and freshness, this body bar blend includes sage, lemongrass, and spearmint essential oils. This body bar soap is design for superior lather and skin feel. This soap is popular with both men and women.

Ingredients: saponified oils of sunflower*, coconut*, palm*, and safflower* (with retained glycerin); water; essential oils of sage, lavandin, lemongrass, and spearmint; calendula petals; rosemary extract. * ingredients marked with an asterisk are certified organic, $12.00

 


Last evening I used the "Lavender" bar soap for my bath. It lathers beautifully and is such a good feeling soap on my skin. After bathing, my skin did not feel taunt or dried out. Very positive experience.

BODY BAR SOAP – LAVENDER


Ingredients: saponified oils of sunflower* and coconut*; water; vegetable glycerin*; essential oils of orange, lavandin, and tangerine; rosemary extract. * ingredients marked with an asterisk are certified organic $12.00 each

BODY BAR SOAP – PEPPERMINT

This fragrant minty soap is going to one of my daughters who is currently having a love affair with minty bath products. What joy this will bring to her!

Ingredients: saponified oils of sunflower*, coconut*, palm*, and safflower* (with retained glycerin); water; essential oil of peppermint; wheat grass*, barley grass*, peppermint leaf*; menthol; rosemary extract. * ingredients marked with an asterisk are certified organic, $12.00 each

Here is an opportunity to take a little off the cost. They are currently on sale for $10.00 and here is a code for a bit more off!

Use Discount Code: NATZEN10OFF for 10% off your purchase at https://www.naturalzensations.com NOTE: Purchase is NOT required to enter #giveaway.

GIVEAWAY
Two Soaps: Bold Attraction and Zage on Me
Begins October 23
Ends November 16 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE: I received products to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prize is provided and mailed directly to the winner by Natural Zensations. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Point of Danger (Triple Threat #1) by Irene Hannon

My thoughts:  The author, Irene Hannon, never seems to fail to capture the reader's interest at the onset of a book and keep it right to the end.

In Point of Danger the reader is left wondering who the culprit is throughout the book. The danger grows day-by-day in unexpected ways and shows the intent and threat that whoever is behind them poses to Eve Reilly.

Eve Reilly is an intelligent professional woman who hosts a talk show that discusses controversial political, behavioral, and perhaps even environmental subjects. The individuals who listen are for her and many are verbally opposed to her rhetoric. But the question is, are they so opposed to her dialogue that they are willing to delivery a bomb?

The detective assigned to her case is handsome, intelligent, dependable, and seemingly unavailable emotionally. But he is good at his job.

I totally enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next installment in the "Triple Threat" series.

About the book: Radio talk show host Eve Reilly is used to backlash from her pot-stirring on-air commentary and interviews, but now it seems a disgruntled listener is resorting to more than angry words to express their displeasure. When a suspicious package arrives on her doorstep, Eve turns to law enforcement for help.

Police detective Brent Lange can't find any evidence to link the string of unsettling incidents that follows, but he's convinced they're connected. As the harassment grows more menacing, it becomes clear someone wants Eve's voice silenced--permanently.

But unless he can track down her foe, fast, the gutsy woman who is willing to take risks for what she believes--and who is swiftly winning his heart--may not survive.

Bestselling author and three-time RITA Award winner Irene Hannon is back with a heart-stopping new series that will have you turning pages well into the night. 

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

Thursday, October 15, 2020

The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica S. Perl & illustrated by Shahar Kober [Review & Giveaway]

We are again looking at a children's book featuring the Jewish Hanukkah celebration. 

My thoughts:  This is a sweet little story of a Jewish family who has just moved into a new apartment. The boxes with all their things are still to be emptied.

But Hanukkah is about to begin and they need their menorah and the candles that go into it. But they can't find it. So they begin to improvise.

Each night a candle is lit and there is a special activity or food for that night. There is symbolism in each night's candle lighting and the activity or food commemorating the Hanukkah celebration.

Since they can't find the items of food or other materials to observe each night's celebration, the children run up and down the stairs to the various apartments, meeting their neighbors who in turn provide a variety of items so the family can have a Hanukkah Celebration. Not quite authentic but definitely memorable.

A nice story about a Jewish holiday and its significance to the family. A nice story of new neighbors being kind and helpful. A nice story of children content to make-do and not to whine.

A good read to learn a bit about a Jewish holiday even if you're not Jewish.

About the book: It shows children and reminds parents that, like the shamash, individual people have the power to spark change and brighten the lives of those around them. Its celebration of unsung helpers is particularly timely, as we honor the healthcare and other essential workers who are risking their lives during this unprecedented time.

It’s Hanukkah, and Max and Rachel are excited to light the menorah in their family’s new apartment. But, unfortunately, their Hanukkah box is missing. So now they have no menorah, candles, dreidels, or, well, anything! Luckily, their neighbors are happy to help, offering thoughtful and often humorous stand-in items each night. And then, just as Hanukkah is about to end, Max and Rachel, inspired by the shamash (“helper”) candle, have a brilliant idea: they’re going to celebrate the Ninth Night of Hanukkah as a way to say thanks to everyone who’s helped them!

This is not only a heartwarming and fun story, it’s also an invitation to join in a beautiful new Hanukkah tradition: celebrating a ninth night with new neighbors and friends! The book includes a guide to celebrate your own “Shamash night” – even if you’re not Jewish.

Perl was inspired to write The Ninth Night of Hanukkah (Sterling Children's Books; 9/15/20; ISBN: 978-1454940883; Hardcover $16.95; Ages 3+; 40 pages) by a conversation with her daughters in which they questioned why the shamash wasn't given its own (ninth) night of honor after spending eight nights helping the other candles. Hanukkah is the perfect time to show appreciation for those who help others and the world at large, and if it means keeping the menorah and the latke pan out for one more night to do so -- well, who can argue with that?

About the creators: Erica S. Perl is the author of many books for children, including All Three Stooges (the 2018 National Jewish Book Award winner, and a Sydney Taylor Honor), When Life Gives You OJ (Sydney Taylor Notable), and Goatilocks and the Three Bears. She lives in Washington, DC, with her family. Learn more about her on Twitter @ericaperl or at www.ericaperl.com. Shahar Kober is a freelance illustrator and art director who lives in Israel. He graduated from Shenkar College of Design in 2005. He illustrates children's books, and contributes illustrations to newspapers, magazines, websites, and animation projects. You can find him at www.skober.com.

🕎 GIVEAWAY 🕎
Begins October 15
Ends November 3 at 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Children's picture books about Jewish holidays, Purim and Hanukkah [Review & Giveaway - USA

We're looking at a couple of books from Wisdom Tales publishing company that are distinctively Jewish. These are children's books about the celebration of Jewish holidays. I believe that our Christian heritage is rooted in Jesus, but also in those who went before and are brought alive to us in the Old Testament which is also a history of the Jewish peoples. 


Children need to know that others sometimes believe differently and have different holidays. Children won't be confused if taught correctly but will grow to understand and appreciate these differences.

The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah by Martha Seif Simpson, illustrated by Durga Yael Bernhard

  

My thoughts: 
In The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin: A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah approaches and the toyshop owner (in the "old country") has sold all his dreidels.  A dreidel is a spinning toy similar to a "top" and was a beloved toy of Jewish children. While the story teaches virtually nothing about the holiday itself, it does teach how miracles cannot be bought.

The book's back pages include information regarding the decorations which are letters or symbols that are part of the dreidel game and are part of how you play the dreidel game. 

The story itself is of how the dreidel is sold to selfish, demanding individuals and when they couldn't get it to spin, they returned it to the toyshop for a refund of what they paid. Finally, the toyshop owner gives it to a kind, sweet boy for whom the dreidel spins beautifully.

A lovely story.

About the book: This dreidel doesn't work! the father had cried. What do you mean? How can a dreidel not work? the shopkeeper asked. It was certainly the most beautiful spinning top the shopkeeper had ever seen, with magical golden letters on its sides. But it just would not spin for two spoiled children who insisted on owning it! Later, the shopkeeper decides to try it one last time: would it spin for another child, one who carried the true spirit of Hanukkah in his heart? In this beautiful holiday story by award-winning author Martha Simpson, and brought to life by the imaginative illustrations of award-winning illustrator D. Yael Bernhard, the happiness and joy of the Hanukkah miracle will warm the heart of young and old alike with its simple message: wonders still occur for those who are ready for them. Included is a useful appendix that explains Hanukkah, and an explanation on how to play the dreidel game."


  

Esther's Gragger: A Toyshop Tale of Purim by Martha Seif Simpson, Durga Yael Bernhard (Contributor)

 

My thoughts:  The noise of the graggers being played with by shoppers and children is really bothering the toyshop owner. Yet he still purchases additional graggers from the peddler.

After receiving the newer graggers from the peddler, a young boy hurryingly enters the toyshop and selects a gragger beautifully painted that has Queen Esther's name on it to give his sister who is also named Esther. With some reluctance the shopkeeper agrees not to sell it a few hours so the boy can return with adequate funds to purchase it.

Soon a very large boy arrives and rudely demands he be sold the Queen Esther gragger. When told he can not have that one, he bellows loudly and slams his hand on the counter demanding that specific gragger for himself. The shopkeeper is adamant to not sell it to this rude customer telling him that he is not welcome in the toyshop.

The young boy returns and buys the gragger after which the bully confronts him and tried to get the toy from the sister who by now is holding the gragger.

The story ends well with shouting and the noise of the graggers driving the bully away. A well written story about the celebration of Purim which is the celebration of Queen Esther's defiance of Hamman in Jewish history when Hamman sought to rid the kingdom of Jews. Hamman was defeated.

The story of Esther is important in the Biblical context for Christians as well as it is rooted in Jewish history. Purim is a Jewish holiday commemorating Esther. The back pages of this children's book provide non-fiction information about Purim and graggers. 



About the book: Young Esther is given a special gragger (a noisemaker) to celebrate the fun, and sometimes raucous, Jewish festival of Purim. An older boy bullies her to get it for himself, but Esther reacts with great courage and intelligence, her actions reflecting the biblical story on which Purim is based. The lively cast of characters quibble and carouse in a bygone world of warmth, surprise, and generosity. There is even a parade for children only. The appendix helps readers understand the history of Purim, how it is celebrated today, what a "gragger" is, and how to make a simple noisemaker. Following the award-winning The Dreidel That Wouldn't Spin, author Martha Seif Simpson and illustrator D. Yael Bernhard have again created a new toyshop tale of playful language and images that hint at ancient roots and hidden meanings, which are just waiting for young readers to find. This is a tale ideal for reading aloud for fun, but also for learning.
GIVEAWAY
Begins October 12
Ends November 6 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and sent directly to winner by publisher, publicist, or author/s.