Thursday, April 30, 2020

Letters from Bear by Gauthier David, illustrated by Marie Caudry [Review & Giveaway]

Purchase it
My thoughts:  This sweet story visits the days when folks wrote letters by hand to dear friends. It also is reminiscent of taking a vacation and writing a daily post card or note to a loved one or friend as you journey along on your trip sharing the sights and experiences with them.

But it is not that which is prompting Bear to write these letters. His friend, Bird, has migrated as is his custom; and Bear, missing Bird dreadfully, decides that rather than hibernate, as is his custom, he will travel to be where Bird is.

As he travels he encounters dark woods that are scary, water where he is entangled in a fishing net, the crossfire of warriors, desert perils, and more. He tells a bit in each letter and keeps saying, "I'm coming."

The illustrations are softly drawn in muted tones of greens, blues, browns, yellows, rust (or orange). They tell the story in just enough detail that a child can experience the adventure and find bits and pieces of the story in the details.

 A lovely tale of friendship, evoking letter writing skills and perseverance. I highly recommend this gentle read.

About the book: Bear can’t imagine a whole winter without her friend, so when Bird migrates south, Bear decides to follow. She’s never left the forest before, but that won’t stop her from crossing oceans and mountains—and sending letters along the way. But a surprise is waiting for Bear on the beach…

Richly told in amusing letters and lush illustrations, this adventurous story invites readers to consider just how far they’d go for their friends.

Begins April 30
Ends May 28 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Eerdmans Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Dead End (Kaely Quinn Profiler #3) by Nancy Mehl

My thoughts: This book is a fitting conclusion to the suspense series by Nancy Mehl which included MIND GAMES, FIRE STORM, and now DEAD END. The two protagonists are FBI agents Kaely Quinn and Noah Hunter. Their friendship goes back for years and fell just short of a romantic relationship. Each went their own way for awhile. They were reunited in Dead End when a copycat serial killer emerges replicating those crimes committed years prior by Kaely Quinn's deranged father.

As an FBI profiler, Kaely has a unique method of evaluating the clues and finding psychological killers. But it comes at a cost to her personally. Noah Hunter questions her system feeling it puts an emotional or mental strain on her.

This time around the serial killer is replicating those crimes committed by Staley's father who has been in prison for years. But law enforcement calls on Staley to become involved much to the chagrin of Noah who feels this is just too much!

I highly recommend this series. Keep in mind that this is a tense series but it is also strongly Christian and doesn't entail the graphic wording of secular stories. A clean, safe read that will keep the reader on edge. 

About the book:  When a body is discovered in a field in Iowa, the police uncover fourteen additional corpses ranging from 20 years old to recent. The remains point to a serial killer with an MO the authorities have seen before--Ed Oliphant, a man who has been in prison for over 20 years . . . and is Special Agent Kaely Quinn's father. After several failed interview attempts to discover if Ed has been training someone to be a copycat killer, the police turn to Kaely in St. Louis.

Kaely promised herself she would never step foot in her hometown or set eyes on her father again. She's always refused to confront her past, but if she wants to prevent any more deaths, she must come face-to-face with the man she's hated for years.
As more bodies are discovered, Kaely races against time and her own personal turmoil to uncover the killer. Will this most personal case yet cost Kaely her identity and perhaps even her life?

About the author: Nancy Mehl lives in Missouri, with her husband Norman, and her very active puggle, Watson. She's authored thirty books and is currently at work on a new FBI suspense series for Bethany House Publishing.

All of Nancy's novels have an added touch - something for your spirit as well as your soul. "I welcome the opportunity to share my faith through my writing," Nancy says. "It's a part of me and of everything I think or do. God is number one in my life. I wouldn't be writing at all if I didn't believe that this is what He's called me to do. I hope everyone who reads my books will walk away with the most important message I can give them: God is good, and He loves you more than you can imagine. He has a good plan especially for your life, and there is nothing you can't overcome with His help."

Begins March 29
Ends April 28 @ 12:02 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. Winner's copy is provided by and shipped directly to the winner by publisher, publicist, or author.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Extreme Ocean: Amazing Animals, High-Tech Gear, Record-Breaking Depths and Much More by National Geographic Explorer Sylvia A. Earle

Perfect pick for World Ocean Day (June 8th) and Shark Week in July

My thoughts:  This is quite a good book about the oceans of the World and the multitude of diversity within its depths. I particularly liked the time line of discoveries that lead up to today's knowledge of the oceans. It seems that the discoveries accelerated from the 1950s through the 1980s with improved diving equipment that allow for deeper more intensive studies. Fascinating.

The information about the oceans and seas that cover this globe we call home is truly mind boggling. The way each and every creature of the depths has differences is intriguing.

I felt that there was more emphasis on the problems of pollution and trash in the oceans than I would like to see. Some, yes. A bit much in this book.

The time-line of discovery provides great information.

Still, this is an excellent book to learn about the oceans; and as usual, the photographs are awesome. You can always count on a National Geographic book to provide beautiful photographs and excellent information.

About the book: Discover the most outrageous aspects of the deep blue — from record-breaking depths to towering tsunamis, underwater giants to tiny sea creatures — along with ocean conservation challenges and what kids can do to help.  An action-packed combination of science and adventure, famed National Geographic Explorer Sylvia Earle leads readers on an in-depth tour of life beneath the waves. Come face-to-face with whales and sharks, learn about the newest and most hi-tech ocean gear and gadgets, experiment with hands-on activities, and join Earle as she recounts her most daring dives. Packed with fascinating tidbits, animal profiles, and up-to-date science, each chapter combines stunning photography with fun, accessible text. Perfect for curious kids, ocean lovers, young explorers, and the classroom. Extreme Ocean reveals the mystery, majesty, danger, and — above all --the importance of our ocean.

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

Friday, April 24, 2020

Ella Freda Organics Retinol Moisturizer [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: The Ella Freda Organics Anti-Aging Retinol Moisturizing Cream was surprisingly effective for a product in this price range. It has been said that Retinol is a standard go-to product for results in the care of your skin and to slow the signs of aging we all disdain. No one wants dry, wrinkled skin. We don't want tiny wrinkles and we most definitely don't want those deep wrinkles.

Ella Freda Organics Retinol Moisturizer (anti-aging) is
pictured here with their Hyaluronic Acid Serum
find both at

So step one is to protect your face from sun damage. The next is to protect the skin from the elements by using a good moisturizer. And then there is the preventative and rescue step of using anti-aging products. This Ella Freda Organic Anti-Aging Retinol Cream is good.

I have noticed that after I apply the Retinol Cream prior to bedtime, I see that in the morning my skin looks amazingly good. Of course I don't use it real close to the eyes - that's a definite no-no for me because I have very sensitive eyes. But I  apply it liberally all over my face and chin and then a bit on the ear lobes and just under the ears. I can only imagine what regular, long-term use could do.

Creamy moisturizer refreshes skin

I think this is a good product and suggest you give it a try. Check out the Ella Freda Organics website. Click Here

Amazon'sChoiceProduct information: (Find it click hereThis anti aging Retinol cream stimulates collagen production and cell turn over, which reduces the appearance of fine lines, evens out complexions and unclogs pores. Your skin’s capacity to retain moisture will be amazingly enhanced using this moisturizer cream as a night cream. Retinol is the #1 dermatologist-recommended anti-aging ingredient for a reason, because it works! Retinol is clinically proven to not only work, but continue to work, providing better results the longer you use it. Extensive testing has shown significant improvement in fine lines and wrinkles as well as pigmentation in as little as 3 weeks!

Suggested Use: Liberally apply to clean, gently dried skin every evening. Even if you start using retinol on an every-other-night schedule, the goal is to use the product every night to get the best results.Rub the product between your fingertips and spread evenly from forehead to chin.
Ingredients: Deionized water, Glycerin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sodium, Hyaluronate, Phospholipids, Retinol, Leuconostoc/Radish root Ferment Filtrate, ETDA, Stearate Citrate, Sunflower Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Shea Butter, Hydrogenated Ethyl Hexyl Olivate, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, StearicAcid, Rose Essential Water, Jojoba Oil, Phenoxyethanol,Capryl Glycol, Sorbic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Pentylene Glycol, Tocopherol Acetate, Panthenol, Sodium Ascorbyl, Phosphate, Sodium Hydroxide.

Can't wait to see if you win the giveaway? Go ahead and order some now at https://ellafredaorganics.comuse DISCOUNT CODE of VERA10 for 10% discount! 

Ella Freda Organics Retinol Moisturizing Cream
Begins April 24
Ends May 20 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway 
DISCLOSURE: I received a product cost free or highly discounted to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own, alone after using the product and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided by Ella Freda Organics and shipped directly to the winner.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Pavilion Books brings exciting fun and education to books and activities

Cool Math: 50 Fantastic Facts for Kids of All Ages by Tracie Young and Katie Hewitt (Hardcover $14.95; ISBN: 978-1843654483)

My thoughts: Math is not my forte. I get along with it when I need to or rather when I can't avoid it. It is a necessary part of life for everyone. Some are gifted. Some are knowledgeable. Some are fair at it. Some are like me - struggle.

This book takes the budding mathematician into the arena of what fun and cool things you can do with math. A small book that is packed with insight. Tricks to help make multiplication easy. The history of mathematics or use of equations, numerals, etc. is given in the front of the book showing how bit by bit the fantastic world of numbers grew in understanding and use.

The examples can be worked through to help better understand. The assorted cool math examples and problems is geared for grades 7-9 or ages 12-18 (adults can learn from this nifty book, too). And it is perfect for STEM and summer reading. It includes a ton of interesting mathematical tasks, so it might be best to equip the reader with a notebook and pencil.

About the book: Inside this mega-jam-packed book are fifty fact-tastic ways to advance your math skills so you'll never be outnumbered by numbers again!

From core curriculum techniques such as multiplying multiples to calculating calculus and probability and division, right through to working out tricky statistics, formulas, and equations in or outside of the classroom, Cool Math will help you work your way out of everyday situations in a way that you'll never forget.

This lively, engaging book is illustrated throughout to help bring math to life, and topics include how to tip, how to work out the distance of a storm, Fibonacci sequences, cracking codes, and many more! From simple multiplication to complex calculus, math has never been easier. With the Cool Math approach, it's fun to learn and easy to remember, but difficult to forget!

Build a Castle: 64 Slot-Together Cards for Creative Fun by Paul Farrell (ISBN: 978-1843654469) 

My thoughts: I have a fascination with 3-dimensional puzzles though I have never attempted to work one. The "Build A Castle" activity kit is sort of an introduction to puzzles in 3-dimension. The concept is to use slotted cards instead of puzzle pieces. Sort of a cardboard building block concept.

  This is ideal for children to use their imagination to construct a castle and also to learn about the various parts of the castle and their importance during medieval times. This isn't something my hands and mind do well with, but kids love it. They can replicate the castle in the illustration or create their own design. During these days when it is best to stay-at-home during the Covid-19 pandemic, this would be great to occupy children's time. I don't think this is age appropriate for pre-kindergarten but likely fits for ages 5 to 8.

About the kit: Turrets, ramparts, windows, walls, and more--create your own medieval masterpiece with the first in a new series of graphic-designed building cards.

This pack contains sixty-four cards (4 x 2¾ inches) of a variety of graphic designs. Clever paper engineering allows you to slot the cards together, building up and out in whichever way you like! Also included is a short ten-page booklet, with descriptions of the card designs and suggestions of stacking methods. The instructions tell you how to build a castle, or you can let your imagination run riot and design your own!

Renowned illustrator Paul Farrell has designed these cards in his bold, colorful graphic style--turning the image of a castle into a work of art.

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Night Night, Zoo by Amy Parker & illustrated by Virginia Allyn from Thomas Nelson Pub. [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:  This is such a sweet board book with lightly padded cover. Cheerful zoo animals grace the pages in bright colors. They romp across the pages as they cheerfully procrastinate bedtime.

The short rhymes take the reader on a tour of the zoo at bedtime as each animal interacts with a parent guiding the young one toward sleepy time. Typical of a family with young children being tenderly guided to bed by parents.

Each two-page spread features a specific animal: lions, zebras, panda bears, etc. And there is a sign placed on each lower right-hand page directing the reader to the next animal on the tour. Children will have fun finding the two mice that are involved at each stop on the tour and seeing how the mice interact.

A lovely little book that ends with a "God is in control" reminder.

About the book: Night Night, Zoo pairs the fun, rhyming text from bestselling author Amy Parker with the award-winning artwork of Virginia Allyn to help your kids wish their favorite zoo animals "Night night!" From tuckered out elephants to dozing zebras, your little wild one will love the colorful art of cute animals settling in for bedtime. The zoo theme features fun and exciting illustrations of wild animals, inviting your children to say "Night night!" to each animal and to the loving God who made them.

Night Night, Zoo is the perfect bedtime book for anyone who already loves Amy Parker's award-winning Night Night, Farm and Night Night, Train.

Enter this giveaway - CLICK HERE 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Giveaway is hosted by publicist and publisher and is responsible for prize and distribution.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Mother's Day 2020 needs to be special. Help Mom relax with this fabulous Lavender Gift Box [Review & 3-Winner Giveaway]

Mothers should be recognized throughout the year, but especially on their special day.

And this year, 2020, mothers of all ages, races, talents, and strengths or weaknesses are filling the gap caused by the pandemic that is devastating the world at large. They are moms at home keeping things going on the home front and they have added to their retinue of necessary tasks to-be-done that of full-time at-home teacher for their child or children. They are being moms, teachers, and many are standing in at the front lines of this viral battle, war, against the CoVid-19 pandemic.

They are bearing unbearable burdens on narrow shoulders yet standing as giants.

They are comforters, healers, teachers, cleaners, cooks, gardeners, shoppers on a day-to-basis as never before.

And as never before, they should be the recipients of accolades, showers of love, and gifts that will comfort them and enable them to rise another day to face another challenge.

What about you? What will you do for your mother, your children's mother?

I have a suggestion and recommendation. And I can recommend it because I've personally enjoyed these specific products.


Includes: 1) Lavender butter soap, 2) lavender candle, 3) lavender hand cream and 4) lavender mini hand/body wash by Good Earth Beauty. Total value $40.25 -  Beauty Box Price: $32.00 - Find it at Good Earth Beauty

Now let's talk about the products in this gem of a beauty box.

Lavender Triple Shea Butter Bar Soap

Fabulous Lavender Triple Shea Butter Bar Soap &
Lavender Vanilla Hand Cream

I bathed with this luxurious soap and it feels so good. Looking at it one would think "old fashioned lye soap" that is harsh as this is not a "prettied up" soap and is just simple and plain. But it absolutely is NOT harsh.

It lathers beautifully and my skin feels soft and clean. I'm quite impressed! This Lavender soap from Good Earth Beauty is certainly equal to my most favorite soap and perhaps surpasses it because of its pureness. Price: $12/bar - Find it at - Lavender Triple Butter Soap

Lavender Vanilla Lavish Moisturizing Hand Cream 

I can't say enough about how much I enjoy using this hand cream and how smooth my hands feel when I use it. It isn't heavy or sticky feeling.

The Lavender Vanilla Hand Cream (great as a hand/body lotion) is simply wonderful. I love its gentle fragrance which will blend so nicely with other fragrances. You should feel so relaxed and your skin will definitely feel like you've been wrapped in silk.

Product description Lavish modern hand cream repairs dry skin and cuticles, leaving behind the tropical scent of Lavender vanilla. To heal cracked skin, you only need a small drop of this cream, which has aloe, macadamia-seed and olive oils, and shea butter. It's deceptively thin for such a hydrating formula, and it leaves hands soft and supple for the entire day.

Lavender Vanilla Scent Description -  Creamy vanilla intermingles perfectly with sweet French lavender. Relaxing and tranquil. Made in small batches in the USA by Good Earth Beauty 4 oz. Tube $14.00 - Find it at Good Earth Beauty
Free of: parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors. 

What about a Lavender Mint Soy Candle to refresh the senses?

These soy candles are made with soy wax and cotton wicks and wonderful essential oils. The mint is definitely strong but it is not overpowering. Now what might one experience when you have lite this candle and your room is wafting the fragrance and uplifting your sense of well-being?
For a bit of aromatherapy using this lovely candle you might experience: Lavender is known for its calming and soothing effect. It is said that the scent of lavender can decrease the heart rate and help you relax. Peppermint has the ability to sooth, calm, and aid in the management of mental fatigue. It is also considered effective in the control of nausea from chemo treatments, post surgical, a well as general illness with nausea. (Information from varied internet sources.)
Product information: All natural, soy based, slow burning candle will help you relax and enjoy the moment.  Soy based with natural fragrance and essential oils. Glass jar - 4 Ounces - Burn Time 20 Hours - Made in small batches in the USA by Good Earth Beauty - Price $13.00
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, 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

Lavender Vanilla Body and Hand Wash

This scrumptious and foamy natural hand & body wash moisturizes and softens, while nourishing even the most sensitive of skin types. Infused with organic milk and nourishing honey, it cleanses and refreshes while being gentle enough to use every day.
Free of:  parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors 
Made in small batches in the USA by Good Earth Beauty. 8 oz bottle pump bottle Price: $18.00 - Find it at Good Earth Beauty

What Vera Recommends..... for Mother's Day... (What are the kiddies giving Mom for Mother's Day?)

  • A Lavender Pampering Beauty Box. or
  • A full size bottle of one of these fabulous hand creams and a Soy Candle.... Mom can take a relaxing aromatherapy bath basking in the lovely fragrance. I recommend the Lavender Mint candle. Then after her bath she can slather the Lavender Vanilla lotion all over her legs, hands, and arms. 
  • Or perhaps a bar of Lavender Butter soap, a Lavender candle to give a comforting bath.

What joy! Don't forget the Discount Code VERA10 for a 10% discount & SHIPPING is always FREE in USA.

Free USA ground shipping for orders placed by May 3rd.  After that choose priority shipping.

And now what you've all been waiting for..... opportunities to win fabulous products. 

  • First prize = Mothers Day Lavender Beauty Box
  • 2nd prize = Lavender bar soap & a mini-size Lavender Hand Cream
  • 3rd prize = Lavender Soy Candle
Begins April 29
Ends May 17 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA Addresses Only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Earth Beauty is a source of all #natural and #organic products that you use on a daily basis to take care of and to pamper your skin. 

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary products to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winner by Good Earth Beauty or publicist.

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Traitor's Pawn by Lisa Harris

My thoughts:  This is an interesting romantic suspense story in that it involves family relationships and hurts inflicted from a father abandoning family to pursue his own interests.

Convoluted emotions are frequently addressed in thoughts and conversations of primary characters, Jack Shannon and Aubrey Grayson, as they work through their own past friendship and how to relate to each other currently. In addition, Aubrey's childhood abandonment creates underlying insecurities.

As agents of law enforcement involved in national security Jack and Aubrey maneuver through these suspense moments and find it highly entangled with Aubrey's father.

The romance is a bit predictable but the suspense is battered back and forth with various endings running through the reader's mind as it races to a conclusion at the end of the book.

A not-to-heavy read that provides a level of entertainment that provides a bit of insight into the workings of torn emotions and faithfulness to one's calling.

About the book: When FBI agent Jack Shannon arrives in Corpus Christi, Texas, he is focused on one thing: find the man who has been selling encrypted government secrets to the Chinese through online birding chat rooms. But when a senator is shot during a hunting trip and the woman he was with is abducted, Jack agrees to join the search--especially when he discovers that the kidnapping victim is Aubrey Grayson, a woman he was once in love with.

As the search continues, it becomes clear the senator may not have been the intended victim--and Aubrey may be connected to the other case Jack is supposed to be working on. Can Jack untangle the knots before it's too late? And when he learns the truth, will it be too painful to get past?

Join the hunt for the truth--and a traitor--in this tension-laden story of secrets, betrayal, and second chances.

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

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Chisholm Trail Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower Series) Barbour Publishing

My thoughts:  I found this new book in the Daughters of the Mayflower series to be a light, enjoyable read. Lots of wit and humor in the conversations of the characters. Friendship. Enemies. Family. Good interaction and ultimately, good overcomes evil. In other words, the good guys win.

But before that, you get a nice read that is clean, wholesome, and sure to take your mind off the worries of the day.

The gist of the story is that of a sweet young lady that is head strong. It begins on a cattle drive (her father's cattle) and her best friend, Wyatt, is along to help with the drive. A clash of personalities, angry words, and gunshots. The result is a tragedy.

Flash forward about 10 years and the same stubborn young lady, though a bit older now, is about to marry. And therein lies the problem. Her father's goal is to keep her safe and prevent a marriage of which he disapproves and knows is dangerous. The method he uses to keep her safe is where the story really gets interesting.

I totally enjoyed this light, and a bit exciting read and can easily recommend it.

About the Book: Stubborn Hearts Clash on a Cattle Drive

Eliza Gentry’s pursuit of marriage to the son of her family’s sworn enemy has cost her greatly. Furious at his daughter’s choices, her father sends her off with the cattle drive heading toward Fort Worth and the Barnhart ranch, but under the watchful eye of Wyatt Creed, a Pinkerton man he has hired to see to her safety. With danger at every turn—not the least of which to his heart—can Wyatt Creed keep his focus with Eliza Gentry around? Is the Chisholm Trail a place for falling in love or a place to die at the hands of cattle thieves?

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

Good Earth Beauty Exclusives brings you new and fun hand creams and lip balms [Review & Giveaway]

Celebrating Good Earth Beauty's 10th-year anniversary we are featuring their "Exclusives" brand and other brands they carry

Summer makes us think of lemonade, picnics with lemony cupcakes and vanilla. Soft breezes. Bright sunshine and billowing clouds skipping across clear blue skies.

The good folks at have concocted a special summery scent for their Exclusives brand of hand cream and lip balm. Presenting...... Lemon Vanilla Cupcake Hand Cream and Lemon Vanilla Cupcake Lip Balm....


My thoughts: This is a simply lovely hand cream. It goes on easily and a little goes a long way. The scent is light and elegant. As we are all performing prolific hand washing these days, we need a good, soothing hand cream. All of GoodEarthBeautyExclusives hand creams will work beautifully to sooth and heal your hands, but this new Lemon Vanilla Cupcake is a lavish, refreshing hand cream that is fabulous. It is a joy to use and is never "sticky" after applying.

I highly recommend.

Product info: Lavish, modern hand cream repairs dry skin and cuticles, leaving behind the perfectly elegant scent of lemon and vanilla. It's good to heal cracked skin, you only need a small drop of this cream, which has aloe, macadamia-seed and olive oils, and shea butter. It's deceptively thin for such a hydrating formula, and it leaves hands soft and supple for the entire day. Made in small batches in the USA by Good Earth Beauty  4 oz Tube Price: $14.00 (find it here)
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.
Free of: parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors.

VANILLA LEMON CUPCAKE LIP BALM - (From the Party Collection)

My thoughts: I feel as though I'm having an "affair" with the Good Earth Beauty Exclusives lip balms. I've an assortment of them and slather on this nourishing, delectable, lip balm frequently. I can't say enough good things about these highly moisturizing, soothing, and naturally good lip balms.

I have given them to adult family members and young granddaughters. The teens and pre-teens love them. I have sent them to a nursing home resident, and she gets so much pleasure from having these and it brings her joy and delight.

I highly encourage you to get some for yourself, to gift, and to particularly bring joy to others. All the lip balms are $6.25 but they have some sets of 3 for $15.00 helping you to save.

Product information: Vegan - natural -  soothing and moisturizing - helps heal chapped lips (find it here)

Seasonal scent Great for summer.  Slather over your lips for the cool feeling of eating a cupcake.  Sweet vanilla lemon flavor. Made by Good Earth Beauty Price: $6.25
Ingredients: Meadowfoam oil, olive oil, avocado butter, candellia wax, vitamin E, natural flavor oil 

Be sure you enter the #giveaway.

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

to take 10% off your entire purchase. 
(This is a special Chat With Vera code but feel free to share it with others.)
2 Winners: Each....
1 Lip Balm & 1 Mini Hand Cream
Lemon Vanilla Cupcake
Begins April 15
Ends May 10  at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE:  I was provided sample products to facilitate a review. Opinions and ideas expressed are mine alone and freely given. Prize is provided by and shipped directly to the winner by Good Earth Beauty webstore.

Celebrating our wonderful world with lovely picture books from Candlewick [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

We're spotlighting three lovely children's picture books that will help them to learn about this beautiful world we inhabit, celebrate Spring and warmer days filled with bird song, flowers, and sunshine, and discover beauty that abounds.

During the Covid-19 world-wide time of uncertainties and that which can lay the groundwork for despair and fear, we can be thankful that the joyful season of Spring envelopes us. These three books will be beautiful aids for parents to use to help impart moments of joy in the hearts and minds of their little ones.

The Stars Just Up the Street by Sue Soltis and illustrated by Christine Davenier (Hardcover ISBN: 9780763698348, Ages 4-8)

Earth Day – 4/22

My thoughts:  It all began with a little girl who loved to look at the stars and count them. Then she learned that there were thousands. But she couldn't see them because of lights in houses and on streets. So began her quest to have a time when she and others could enjoy the wonders of the thousands of stars visible in the dark, new-moon phase sky.

A lovely thought and perhaps this will entice people in towns and cities to dim or turn off the lights for a period so people can actually see the magnificent night sky.

Our world and the heavens above are awesome and children need an opportunity to see and explore. Lights out time might be a good start for seeing the expanse of stars above us.

About the book: Mabel loves stars. She counts five from her window and thirty-seven from her backyard. But her grandfather tells her that, as a child, he could see thousands. Could it be true? Mabel climbs a hill looking for more stars — only to discover that the glow from the nearby town makes them hard to see. What would it take for her neighbors to turn off their lights, just for one night, so that everyone could see the starlit sky? Sue Soltis’s tale of a young activist and Christine Davenier’s luminous illustrations will leave readers curious about the dark-sky movement — and the wonder that is waiting for them just up the street.

The Nest That Wren Built by Randi Sonenshine and illustrated by Anne Hunter (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536201536, Ages 4-8)

Go Birding Day – 4/28

My thoughts:  The author takes the familiar "This is the house that Jack built" rhyme and adapts it beautifully to the Carolina Wren's nest building. I'm a "Carolina girl" so reading a picture book about a "Carolina bird" so beautifully written and illustrated is dear to my heart.

The wren is a little brown bird and this beautiful book is painted with the natural hues of soft browns and greens. While a fun and gracious book to read, it is definitely educational and doesn't even claim to be such. I knew birds used twigs, sticks, leaves, moss, and bits of string and fluff - even hair - as building materials. What I learned, though, was that they even use spider egg orbs to provide extermination services to protect their little birdies.

I definitely recommend this book and believe that the season of nest building, birds chirping, and birds flitting here and there, it is the absolute perfect time to read to your little ones and show them the beauty of a bird nesting.

About the book: In the rhyming style of “The House That Jack Built,” this poem about the care and specificity that Carolina wrens put into building a nest is at once tender and true to life. Papa and Mama Wren gather treasures of the forest, from soft moss for a lining to snakeskin for warding off predators. Randi Sonenshine’s lilting stanzas, woven with accurate and unexpected details about Carolina wrens, and Anne Hunter’s gentle, inviting illustrations reveal the mysterious lives of these birds and impart an appreciation for the wonder of the life cycles around us. Back matter includes a glossary and additional interesting facts about wrens.

Seeds By Carme Lemniscates (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536208443, Ages 2-5)

Earth Day - 4/22

My thoughts:  This is a beautifully illustrated, though not elaborate in style, book. The text gently takes the reader, or young listener, through the amazing life cycle of a seed that replicates the journey of any and all seeds around the world. The amazing explosion of one seed into hundreds but only after it has been planted in its place.

The author doesn't just speak of the plant world but gracefully transitions into a sweet application of the seed being planted to how people, too, are like seeds in that they plant and propagate in many ways. The way they behave and associate with others with anger, smiles, gentle behavior, harsh behavior, sharing is mirrored in society.

As a plant seed only reproduces what it is, so we reproduce or plant our own manners and behavior. A strong, simple, beautiful story with a lot of punch.

About the book: Some seeds are whisked away by the wind, while others are carried by creatures to their destinations. Once seeds find their spot, they go through breathtaking transformations, multiplying in number and size and thriving in even the most unseemly places. We humans plant seeds, too, and with care we can cultivate and nurture something wonderful, whether by sowing a seed in the earth or by choosing our own seeds of kindness to spread around. With gorgeous, welcoming illustrations, the creator of Trees and Birds presents another ode to the beauty around and within us.

2 Winners: 3 Books Set Each 
Begins April 15
Ends May 10 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA and CANADA
No P.O.Boxes
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies from Candlewick Press to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided by and shipped directly to the winner by Candlewick.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

All Around Bustletown 4-Book Series: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

Prestel's new All Around Bustletown series (Board Books, $12.95 each; Ages 2-5; 14 pages) by Rotraut Susanne Berner

This cute series follows the activities of a charming, bustling town over the course of all four seasons! If you look closer, you'll recognize the same characters appear on every page, each with their own story.

In the tradition of Richard Scarry and Where's Waldo, this series encourages kids to return again and again to each spread, following along with the characters and inventing their own stories. They'll recognize parts of their own world, while also learning about the endless ways we live, work, and play in each season. Kids will spend hours poring over these oversized pages of vibrantly detailed drawings in this joyfully illustrated series.

"What is it about cross-section illustrations — the kind where you can see everything going on inside a house, upstairs and down, all at once — that makes them so mesmerizing? Berner, one of Germany’s best-known children’s authors and illustrators, excels at these fascinating dollhouse-type scenes, a staple of the German genre known as Wimmelbooks. Hers are jam-packed with old and young characters engaged in prosaic, silly or mysterious activities that young readers can spend hours poring over...Parents and grandparents may be especially susceptible to this giant board book’s old-fashioned charms." —The New York Times

In All Around Bustletown: Spring (2/18/2020; ISBN: 978-3791374093), a house gets a top-to-bottom spring cleaning and farm fields are being prepared for planting. People are shopping, commuting to work, constructing buildings, and meeting friends. If you look closer, you'll recognize the same characters appear on every page, each with their own story. There's Wilfred the jogger slipping on a banana peel and his friend Erica who comes to help him. Three cheerful nuns shop, chat, and share a snack at the cafe. A stork surveys all the activity from the sky while a mischievous fox scampers through the streets.

My thoughts: On the back cover of each season in the Bustletown series, individual characters are drawn and it will be fun to watch for them in each of the books. Some are repeated and some are not. That is the case in any town and especially in Bustletown.

Beneath the characters on the back cover there is also a question, thought, or statement parents care read to their child to guide them in looking for actions and objects on the pages. Other than this page of text, the books are essentially "wordless."

The parrot gets lose and you can find him in different spots on each page. Someone drops a banana peel. Can you find it?

The possibilities of observation and story telling are virtually endless with the individuals, activities, buildings, seasons, and life in general.

I found it quite interesting to open all four books to the same scenes and compare the activities for each season. Also, it was interesting to see the progression of a project taking place - such as repair of the church.

Spring simply bursts forth on the pages giving opportunity to relate to activities children see depicted on the pages.

It's summer in  All Around Bustletown: Summer (4/21/2020; ISBN: 978-3791374208) and that means flowers, picnics, thunderstorms, and bike rides. It's a busy time for construction workers, farmers, and house painters. Playgrounds are filled with kids and vacationers are boarding trains in droves. In the sky a pair of balloons drifts through every scene, while on the street people of all ages make their way to an outdoor birthday party. There's even a big storm that turns umbrellas inside out, sends hats flying, but ends in a lovely rainbow.

My thoughts: Summer is just brimming with fun times around Bustletown. It is warm and folks are out and about enjoying the sunshine. There is free time. There is community to enjoy.

The leaves are blowing off the trees and the birds are flying south in All Around Bustletown: Fall (7/21/2020; ISBN: 978-3791374222). Farmers are preparing the fields for winter and kids are back in school. And look, there's a water main break that's causing havoc and a chimney sweeper perched on a roof! Each time readers look at these delightfully detailed spreads they'll discover something new, whether it's what's for sale at the outdoor market or how many pumpkins they can spot on a single page. Familiar characters appear on each page--a maestro and a violinist, a balloon-toting nun, and a mom with her baby. All the activity culminates in a harvest celebration lit by dozens of paper lanterns in every shape and size.

My thoughts: Bustletown in the Fall is a delight. So many delightful activities to talk about. The Fall Festival. The Fall dance. The kindergarten pumpkin walk. The weather is cooling off, the air is brisk, the leaves are everywhere. A delight!

Winter has arrived in All Around Bustletown: Winter (10/2019; ISBN: 978-3791374154) and everywhere you look people are embracing the season. At home there's baking, reading, and sleeping in, while on the farm the fields are fallow and quiet. Outside people are bundled up against the cold as they are skating, sledding, and running to catch a crowded bus. The town's buildings are alive with activity--piano lessons, a dentist appointment, shopping for presents, and visiting the museum. (Read Chat With Vera's review here)

1 Set of 4 Bustletown Books
Begins April 11
Ends May 9 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to addresses in USA & CANADA only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's books are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Luxurious, healthy, delicious and available. Laumière Gourmet Fruits bring joy and delight to all

I am so pleased with this beautiful package of delicious, nutritious, and healthy goodies. Ordered for myself, I would share with family, but the dreadful Covid19 pandemic doesn't allow for gatherings.

I have eaten the different items in the beautiful superfood collection and thus far my most favorite is the apricot "sandwich". I couldn't imagine what the middle layer consists of but it is absolutely delicious. So I checked for the ingredients and it is an almond/honey paste. Delicious!

I have totally enjoyed these luscious, healthy snacks that will go from nibbling at home to the finest party food to serve your guests. Comes beautifully and protectively wrapped which is essential for quality as well as health issues. The apricot items are my "most favorite."

With such a shortage of items available now and with "shelter in place" in effect, this is a perfect item to order for your home or to gift to family and friends. And my product arrived securely wrapped and in great shape plus a protective layer of wrap which is so needed in these uncertain times. I truly love this beautiful and tasty Laumière Gourmet Fruits product.

All the products are preservatives free, gluten-free, sugar-free & dairy-free. All the products are suitable for a vegetarian and vegan diet.

Products readily available & FREE SHIPPING in USA!

DISCLOSURE: Products reviewed on Chat With Vera are sometimes free or at a reduced cost to me. I was not compensated to provide a review. Opinions expressed are mine, alone and given without requirement to post a favorable review.

Monday, April 6, 2020

THE ENGLISCH DAUGHTER by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall

My thoughts: Typically, stories about the Amish portray a group of separatists whose faith is strict and one to which they dutifully adhere. Each faith community is a unique community of believers who blindly follow the rules of their order and the bishop that presides over their faith community. Community is inclusive of farmers, business people, families, singles. Their rules for entering the church and the community are to be completely followed or result in shunning of the individual. But the shunning impacts the individual's family in a emotionally disturbing way.

The Amish community in which The Englisch Daughter takes place is somewhat different. Typically, the Amish do not allow for phones on one's person and in the home. They also do not allow for computers. The exception is occasionally made when it is required for a business and must be approved by the bishop. In The Englisch Daughter the use of cell phones and knowledge of computer usage is extant and seemingly not frowned upon. They still don't have their own cars and trucks relying on buggies. However, they do call for an Uber using their cell phones. So the community in which this story takes place is strict in some of the Amish constraints but not others.

The co-authors have beautifully written how men and women interact in marriage both Amish and otherwise.The overbearing and all-authoritarian status of men with the wife and mother being homemakers and servants in the home without any decision making capabilities is typical of the Amish. It is, too, typical of many non-Amish homes. This story brings out the struggle of women to be appreciated, respected, and involved in more than a servant's role in marriages.

As with other Cindy Woodsmall beautifully crafted stories, The Englisch Daughter is a wonderful read that will take the reader through a series of emotional rides as they become mentally involved with the plight and heartbreak of Jemima, the betrayed wife, and as they bear the heartbreaking distancing of Abigale and Chris. The book's ending has a superb twist that could only have been discovered through the use of cell phones and computers - how surprising in an Amish story.

I highly recommend.

About the book: What happens when your spouse has become a stranger?

Old Order Amish wife and mother Jemima Graber has put her marriage and young children ahead of herself for years. For the last decade she’s set herself aside while her husband, Roy, invested in the family’s successful horse farm. While raising four little ones, she’s followed all the rules and patiently waited to finally chase a dream of her own.

But now, at the time when her dreams are about to be realized, Roy has grown distant from Jem, and she doesn’t know what to make of his unusual moods and absences. Is his erratic behavior somehow connected to the tenant in the family’s rental property, an Englisch woman Roy dated during his rumschpringe days? And if so, how far does God’s forgiveness extend in impossible situations?

CINDY WOODSMALL is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of twenty-five works of fiction and one nonfiction book. Cindy’s writing has been featured on ABC’s Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal. She lives outside Atlanta with her husband.

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

ERIN WOODSMALL is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of four. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. More recently she and Cindy have coauthored five books.

The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep published by Barbour Publishing (Christian historical fiction)

My thoughts: I am enjoying the writings of Michelle Griep in recent months and look forward to each new release. The House at the End of the Moor was an interesting read allowing the reader to peek into the historical period and glimpse the class struggles, cruelty, inhumanity, raw/rank prisions, and sheer devious contriving of man.

The dwelling about which the title comes is a secluded older home where a "widow" resides with her housekeeper and manservant. She has no visitors nor desires any. She doesn't go into the village to shop or visit; that is left to her servants so that she can remain a recluse.

The story behind her self-imposed seclusion stems from her past as a famous opera star who suddenly disappeared. She isn't truly a widow but uses the presumption as a means of disguise.

Then her life is disrupted when a nearly dead and desperate young man is found by her housekeeper. He is brought into "the house at the end of the Moor" so they can nurse his injuries.

Then the world encroaches upon her isolation and danger lurks everywhere.

This was an interesting, though not a challenging read. I enjoyed the glimpse into the ways and social mores of the times. The characters were interesting. I found myself being surprised a few times with their relationships and resolution of  their differences.

The story has a happy ending, which is something I find enjoyable. Cliff hangers are fine, but I do like to have a conclusion; and when it is happy it makes for a nice "warm fuzzy" feeling.

I recommend the book for its being a good, clean, Christian historical fiction read.

About the Book: What Can a London Opera Star and an Escaped Dartmoor Prisoner Have in Common?

Opera star Maggie Lee escapes her opulent lifestyle when threatened by a powerful politician who aims to ruin her life. She runs off to the wilds of the moors to live in anonymity. All that changes the day she discovers a half-dead man near her house. Escaped convict Oliver Ward is on the run to prove his innocence, until he gets hurt and is taken in by Maggie. He discovers some jewels in her possession—the very same jewels that got him convicted. Together they hatch a plan to return the jewels, clearing Oliver’s name and hopefully maintaining Maggie’s anonymity.

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

Saturday, April 4, 2020

IMIM Anti-Aging Face Cream Moisturizer with Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid

Our face expresses our emotional lives, experiences both pleasant and unpleasant, and the years take a toll. The environment takes its affect on our skin as does damage from too much sun. By applying creams to our face, we can slow the appearance of winkles created by the joy and stresses of life.

The IMIM Anti Aging Moisturizer has hyaluronic acid and retinol  in a light, quickly absorbed cream base that I can use day and night. It feels wonderful on my face. Though light weight, it is non-greasy and it does a good job of moisturizing. Makeup goes on quite well over this. Also, my face has a nice soft "glow" without makeup for those "stay-at-home" days. My skin is still soft feeling hours after using. Priced in the mid-range, it is quite affordable.

A note for when you're applying moisturizer... Be sure you don't neglect under your chin, your ear lobes, and the area behind and under your ears. They develop creases as we age and the skin naturally has a way of drying out on its own. A bit of moisturizing cream in these areas does wonders.

Previously, I reviewed the IMIM Neck Cream. You can read that review here

Product information (find it on Amazon)

Helps your skin build a moisturizing barrier. Restore your skin tissue regeneration, improve skin texture, self-healing ability. Effectively reduce your skin dryness, flaking, peeling, relaxation, and eliminate fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet. Make your skin moisturized firm and elastic.
  • Ultra-Effective Anti-Aging Cream: Rich in Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, Nicotinamide, Hyaluronic acid, Xanthan Gum, Squalane, Allantoin and other organic ingredients, which have super moisturizing, anti-oxidation and will continuously stimulate the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid. Use it will improve your skin resistance, get rid of allergic skin. Let your skin appear young and supple.
  • Premium Whitening and Brightening Cream: Non-greasy advanced formula can inhibit melanin production, relieve skin pressure, restore your skin tissue regeneration, improve skin texture and self-healing ability. It will effectively solve your uneven skin like acne, sunburn, freckles, spots, scars, stretch marks, dark circles, dullness, enlarged pores, etc. Reveal your true beauty.
  • Mild & Non-Greasy: Can sensitive skin use it? Yes, absolutely! Our product never tested on animals, and have no binders, thickeners, fillers, sulfates, parabens or fragrance. It fully absorbs quickly, leaves no residue and won’t clog pores, can't causing breakouts, blackheads, pimples even irritate. Great for all skin types, especially sensitive skin!
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary product to use and review. Opinions are mine, alone and determined only after using the product. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes by Trudi Trueit (Book #4 in series) [Giveaway 4-Book Series]

For EA, a spotlight is terrific and yes, a giveaway of all 4 books would be great!

National Geographic Kids Books has always been the gold standard when it comes to making learning fun for kids.  During this time of widespread and extended school closures, their books are not only fantastic boredom busters that will keep kids engaged for hours, but they are also trusted resources that weave in important topics like science, technology, conservation, culture and codebreaking in a FUN way.

Continue the adventure with Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes by Trudi Trueit, the fourth book in the popular fact-based fiction series (National Geographic Kids’ Under the Stars; March 2020, ages 8-12).   Deemed “captivating” by the editors at and “exciting, fast-paced” by Booklist, the series is filled with thrilling adventures, high-tech cadets, cool science, far-away lands, and codes to crack.

Follow 12-year-old Cruz Coronado during his time at the prestigious Explorer Academy, where he and 23 kids from around the globe are training to become the next generation of great explorers. In addition to making new friends and attending cool classes, Cruz must also work to unlock clues to his family’s shadowy past if he is to solve the mystery of his mother’s untimely death.   

In this exciting follow-up to The Double Helix, a major discovery catapults Cruz and the Explorer Academy team into the limelight and they head off to Africa.  Cruz and his fellow recruits tackle challenging missions to dispense life-saving medications to gorillas, thwart pangolin poachers and capture images of the last known cheetahs in Namibia — all the while discovering that protecting the world’s threatened species is dangerous business! 

After yet another strike from Nebula, someone close to Cruz ends up on the brink of death, leaving the ship in turmoil and Cruz and his team down a major player.  The discovery of his mom’s next clue leads Cruz to a vast desert — and just when he thinks he’s run out of leads for solving the mystery of her tragic disappearance, an unlikely ally helps him pursue another piece of the ongoing puzzle. Can Cruz and his team stay one step ahead of Nebula and find the next piece of the hidden cipher?

With four critically acclaimed titles in this series now available, two companion nonfiction activity books and literally hours and hours of videos, games, and info on real-life explorers at, Explorer Academy is the perfect way to keep kids learning, reading and engaged.   An illustrated spread from The Star Dunes can be viewed here and Read the first chapter from The Star Dunes. CLICK HERE
Begins April 1
Ends April 30 @ 12:01 EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of The Star Dunes to facilitate this post. Winner's prize of 4 books is provided and shipped directly to the winner by the publisher or publicist.