Friday, July 23, 2021

A Man with A Past (Brothers In Arms #2) by Mary Connealy

My thoughts:  
A MAN WITH A PAST by Mary Connealy is #2 in the Brothers In Arms series. As usual the author writes an engaging story that combines the old west and lots of joviality that gives the reader an engaging, entertaining, and relaxing read. Good clean fiction. Loved it!

I think it best to read book #1 in the series first although not necessary. It isn't really necessary because the author gives plenty of background about the characters and their interaction with each other setting the stage for the man who is "the man with a past." 

The intrigue of cattle rustling, sniper shootings, and downright mystery is mixed and stirred with an ample amount of funny comments and scenes.

I can always count on Mary Connealy to give me something to laugh about, a good dose of faith, and a well developed set of characters and story line. 

About the book: Falcon Hunt awakens without a past, or at least not one he can recall. He's got brothers he can't remember, and he's interested in the prettiest woman in the area, Cheyenne. Only trouble is, a few flashes of memory make Falcon wonder if he's already married. He can't imagine abandoning a wife. But his pa did just that--twice. When Falcon claims his inheritance in the West, Cheyenne is cut out of the ranch she was raised on, leaving her bitter and angry. And then Falcon kisses her, adding confusion and attraction to the mix.

Soon it's clear someone is gunning for the Hunt brothers. When one of his brothers is shot, Falcon and Cheyenne set out to find who attacked him. They encounter rustled cattle, traitorous cowhands, a missing woman, and outlaws that take all their savvy to overcome. As love grows between these two independent people, Falcon must piece together his past if they're to have any chance at a future.

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

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Two reads about Olympian athlete and a beloved coach from Soulstice Publishing [Giveaway]

Abdi's World: The Black Cactus on Life, Running, and Fun

Five-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman is releasing his new memoir right before heading to Japan for the Olympics in July. When he qualified for the 2020 Olympics, he became the oldest American runner ever to make the Olympic team.

In the book (Pub Date: 7/10, Soulstice Publishing, LLC), Abdi shares his thoughts on the world, running, and living. Readers will also discover his personal story, not just in professional distance running but also leaving Somalia for a refugee camp in Mombasa, Kenya, and eventually settling in Tucson and finding joy and opportunity in his new country.

Abdi has spent his entire adult life as a professional runner, competing in the Olympics, World Championships, major marathons, track meets, and road races worldwide. But Abdi doesn't define his life by his running career. 

Instead, Abdi believes life is defined by the choices one makes, the way you look at the world each day, and the people you surround yourself with. Known as "The Black Cactus," he is one of the most beloved and respected figures in the sport because of his longevity, work ethic, and positive attitude. 

Chasing Excellence

Chasing Excellence will take you on the fascinating and inspiring journey of Dr. Joe I. Vigil. Known simply as "Coach" to virtually everybody he has ever met, Coach Vigil rose from poverty to become a towering figure in the running world. Coach has won 19 national championships and coached 425 All-Americans, 22 Olympians, and an army of "Vigilantes" who seek to emulate his unique blend of compassion, competitive spirit, and commitment to others.

In this long-overdue biography about America's preeminent distance-running coach, author and Vigilante Pat Melgares shares Coach Vigil's tale, not just through the consummate storyteller's own words, but also through those of more than 50 former runners and foes who have been shaped by his presence over a lifetime.

"Chasing Excellence" has been Coach Vigil's mantra for decades, for himself and those he teaches. At age 91, he's as relentless as ever in that quest.

GIVEAWAY ~ 2 Books
Begins July 21
Ends August 10 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies in exchange for this book spotlight and hosting the giveaway. Since I have not read the books, I can not vouch for the content. Prizes are provided by PR By the Book LLC, Publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Candlewick children's picture books review & giveaway [USA/CANADA- 2 Winners]

Phoebe Dupree Is Coming to Tea! by Linda Ashman & illustrated by Alea Marley 

My thoughts: 
This is an absolutely delightful book. The hostess, Abby, is preparing for a visiting by Miss Phoebe Dupree and she is quite anxious to have everything just right at her tea party because Miss Dupree is so very perfect.

I suppose most everyone feels this way at some point in time, and the delightful rhyme and adorable pictures set the stage for learning a lesson in adaptability is just wonderful.

I highly recommend this book.

About the book: Abby is anxious to host the perfect tea party for a friend she idolizes, but life serves up a sweet taste of the fun to be had when perfection is off the table.

Have you met Phoebe—Miss Phoebe Dupree?
Phoebe’s as perfect as perfect can be.
To Abby, her friend Phoebe can do no wrong. Phoebe is speedy. Phoebe is smart. She’s equally brilliant at science and art. So when the budding hostess invites Phoebe over for a tea party, everything from the sugary treats on the menu to Abby’s dog, Louie, must be, well…perfect. But when life—and possibly Louie—send a clear message to let loose, the girls indulge in a perfectly imperfect playdate. Linda Ashman’s vivacious rhyme and Alea Marley’s inviting illustrations serve up a classic tale of enduring friendship at a tea party that will leave readers wanting to pull up a chair. 

Hugo by Atinuke & illustrated by Birgitta Sif 

My thoughts: 
This is a delightful story with charming illustrations that tell the tale of a park pigeon who is tasked (by whom? we don't know) to be the guardian and caretaker of the park. In his day to day tasks he notices a curtain move in an upper window but no one comes out from the window.

Alas, our pigeon is injured and he is rescued by the mysterious person behind the curtain. 

A lovely story of compassion and watching-over. I recommend.

About the book: A Parisian pigeon passionate about people makes a new friend - with gentle themes of community and inclusivity. Hugo the pigeon has an important job. He looks after the park and everyone who lives there. Everyone except for the Somebody whose curtains are never open. But one day, Hugo is so busy doing his showing-off dance that he doesn't see the dog approaching ... and Somebody has to fly to the rescue! A charming story about community and the value of friendship, beautifully brought to life by Birgitta Sif's energetic illustrations.

Noah's Seal by Layn Marlow  

My thoughts: 
A small boy and his grand mother are at the beach. They are in a land where seals visit from time to time. The boy wants to see the seals.

While he awaits their appearance, he makes a sand and seashell seal. His grandmother encourages and praises him. Then the storm comes and sweeps the sand seal away. But they are not disappointed because magically the real seal appears.

A bit of fantasy set in a typical day at the beach. Cute book.

About the book: In a picture-perfect ode to the perfect day at the beach, a young boy experiences the joys of being left alone to play and dream at the edge of a wild sea.

Waiting is hard. In a gentle multigenerational story that blurs the boundaries of real and imagined, Noah waits on shore while Nana fixes their sailboat. The boat will take them out to sea where the seals live, and Noah can hardly contain himself. In the meantime, he sculpts his own seal out of sand. Noah collects shells for the seal’s speckled back, spiky dune grass for whiskers, two shiny pebbles for eyes, and a smiling line of seaweed for a mouth. He lies beside his new friend to watch the rolling sea until a storm blows in and Noah must take cover. Later, he wonders: did his seal swim away? Readers will delight in pondering the mystery too in this sun-splashed book for young adventurers—an essential summer-vacation read. 

Begins July 19
Ends August 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA
Phone required for Canadian winners
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winners by publisher, publicist, or author. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Root veggies at the root of it all

We all know how good root vegetables are for us. Just chock full of nutrients. And.... there are so many varieties., 

We depend greatly for the diverse white potato. I like the red-skinned potato as well as the Yukon Gold potato. And of course Russets for baking. 

Recently I was gifted an odd looking root veggie that resembled a small sweet potato (or yam) but yet different somewhat in outer appearance. I assumed it was a turnip of some sort. The sweet lady that gifted the veggie to me said it had "tops like a turnip." So I'm assuming, too, that it is a turnip.

Smaller pieces are "unknown root" or Golden Beet
and larger pieces are peeled Red Skin Potato

It was small so I thought I'd cook it together with one peeled Red Skin Potato. So both roots were peeled, lightly salted and peppered, water added to "boil" them and a small amount of butter.

I cooked them until tender. The liquid cooking down a bit to where it was a thickened a bit naturally.

After eating, I believe the new, unidentified root is a golden beet or yellow beet. The texture and taste resemble regular red beets  slightly. The taste was definitely not that of a turnip.

The combined potato and "golden beet" is delicious and a dish I hope to recreate again sometime soon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Organic Boneless Thin Sliced Chicken Breast for dinner

Today we'll talk about what I did with the FarmerFocus Organic Boneless Thin Sliced Chicken Breast. I thought there were 4 servings in the pack so when I lifted out 1 breast I thought, "Well, it's thinner that those monster huge breasts that are so tough. We'll see." I began the prep thinking one serving. I'm just preparing a very simple dinner with this lovely chicken. 

I seasoned lightly with salt, black pepper, and chili powder (yep, light dusting) on both sides. In doing so I saw the one piece was actually two very thin slices. After seasoning, I set it aside to allow flavor to penetrate meat. 

I then prepared the sauté pan with extra virgin olive oil and a little butter. I heated the oil/butter in pan and placed meat in. Then after a couple minutes flipped it. I was using a medium-high temp to sauté the chicken. Once done (it's thin so I had to be quick and not over cook it) I placed it on a cutting board and sliced it to place atop the already prepared salad.

Salad: I used Butter Lettuce, English cucumbers, locally grown tomato, grated cheese, croutons, and a bit of homemade Thousand Island Dressing. Chicken was placed on top and served immediately.

Vegetable: A dear friend gave me some already cooked, locally grown green beans. Yummy.

Nice to know.... My package of FarmerFocus Organic Chicken was from the River Bottom Farm in Virginia. I enjoyed reading online about this farm and feel confident eating meat produced at it rather than on a mega-farm.

Meal prepared in my home kitchen solely by myself. I enjoyed it consuming it all.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

"MARS IS Stark Slopes, Silvery Snow, & Startling Surprises" & "Abraham Lincoln's Dueling Words" from Peachtree Publishing [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

MARS IS Stark Slopes, Silvery Snow, & Startling Surprises by Suzanne Slade 

My thoughts:  The stunning photographs taken with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera along with the clear, understandable text brings the "Red Planet" a bit closer to us. Our minds can begin to grasp just what is so special and unique to Mars.

As people of Earth expand their exploration and knowledge of outer space and the planets, we begin to see that there are elements about them that are hard to comprehend.

I am delighted to read through the pages of Mars Is and see with my own eyes the images captured with this amazing camera. Information at the back of the book tells some of the story of the HiRise Camera.

I highly recommend this book for classrooms, homeschoolers, and libraries everywhere.

About the book: Award-winning author and former mechanical engineer Suzanne Slade (Countdown, A Computer Called Katherine) explores the remarkable beauty of Mars in this timely photo-packed space extravaganza.

For young readers eagerly following NASA's Mars Exploration Program and awaiting continued discoveries on the Red Planet.

For centuries, people have been intrigued by Mars, and over time, scientists have made exciting discoveries, such as the planet's Earth-like weather and seasons. But curious earthlings want to know more. Does Mars have deserts? Volcanos? Or signs of life? Could people live there someday?

Scientists decided to take a closer look. They built a powerful camera called the HiRise (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) and loaded it onto a rocket. The rocket blasted off on August 12, 2005, and seven months later, the camera began orbiting Mars. It sent back astounding, revealing photos showing the world what Mars really is.

With elegant spare prose, award-winning nonfiction author and former rocket engineer Suzanne Slade leads readers through some of these stunning photos taken by the most advanced camera ever sent to another planet. A visual feast for space enthusiasts and STEAM fans that will expand readers' assumptions and understanding of Mars.

Teacher's guide available! 

Abraham Lincoln's Dueling Words by Donna Janell Bowman  

My thoughts:  This story about Abraham Lincoln is a great introduction to biographic reading for elementary children. When incidents in the lives of real people are entertainingly written and illustrated, it creates a desire to further pursue learning about that person or other real people.

In this recounting of the incident involving Lincoln and his political rival, we learn that Lincoln was a flawed individual who acted in an ill conceived manner. He penned a letter to the editor using a different name than his own and this incited his rival to call him out for a duel.

Lincoln ultimately learned his lesson to guard his words carefully. The outcome of the duel was not the catastrophe it could have been.

About the book: Abraham Lincoln was known for his sense of humor. But in 1842, early in his adult life, it nearly got him into trouble. He had to use his imagination to save his career--and maybe even his life.

When Abraham Lincoln became frustrated with the actions of James Shield, a political rival, he came up with a plan. It was silly. It was clever. And it was a great big mistake! Lincoln, his future wife, and a friend of hers wrote a series of fictional letters to the editor, complaining about Shields. But when Shields took offense, he challenged Lincoln to a duel. How would our future president straighten things out and save the lives and careers of both himself and his rival?

Donna Bowman's humorous voice and S.D. Schindler's expressive illustrations are the perfect match for this story of Abraham Lincoln's humor and wit. Back matter includes an author's note with a bibliography. 

Begins July 13
Ends August 5 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Peachtree Publishing. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Heart's Charge by Karen Witemeyer (Hanger's Horsemen #2)

My thoughts: The story takes off hilariously heart warming right from the start. Two stalwart warriors come charging in to take charge of a childbirth situated in the wilderness with a despondent distraught widow and no one to help her.

From that we go to the disappearance of boys, a home for foundlings, and two strong ladies.

Two sweet romances - one is a rekindling after a decade of lost contact and the other a drawing together of kindred souls.

Huge warrior horses that seem at one with their riders and have knowledge beyond their innate capabilities.

All in all, a fun read that ends with the good guys catching the bad guys and sweet romances a-bloom, and uncared for children given homes and love. 

About the book: On a mission to deliver a baby to a nearby foundling home, Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks encounter two women who capture their attention. When a handful of urchin children from the area go missing, a pair of Horsemen are exactly what the women need. As they work together to find the children, will these two couples find love as well?

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

Friday, July 9, 2021

Masks even for the "fully vaccinated" continue to protect against COVID-19 [Giveaway & Review]

Much to our dismay, Covid-19 and it's variants is still with us. I'm doing my bit to promote vaccination against this virus.

Sure, I didn't jump on the vaccine bandwagon at first call, I waited. I had my reasons for delaying but finally realized that it was something I needed to do. Just as I needed the polio vaccination back when it first came out.

First, I got my two shots of Pfizer and hardly noticed any reaction. Then I scheduled my husband's. He's only had his first shot but the second is due very soon.

What about you? Can you say, "Vaccinated and proud of it!" Many are shedding their masks but some of us are still remaining cautious because of the delta variant. Stay safe. It’s not over yet. 

Current thinking is that the aggressive Delta variant of Covid-19 can be passed by vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic. Wear a mask to be safe for others.

Top mask features Dr. Fauci
Bottom mask features "Fully Vaccinated"
3 layers, nose wires and adjustable ear loops
Reverse sides: Top Dr. Fauci is of white cloth
Bottom "Fully Vaccinated" is Black/White Checkered cloth
Made in USA | 100% Cotton
Fully Reversible | Nosewire
Nicely packaged

You can stay safe, keep others safe, and support a small USA business by purchasing these masks on etsy or Instagram. 

Go to @etsy or @shopgalny on Instagram. DM questions or go to link in bio..... or click or..... Go online to for masks and other Made in Woodstock, NY, USA items.

1 Face Mask
Begins July 9
Ends July 24 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received complimentary masks to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by D.Widger of @Shopgalny

#relaximvaxd #pfizer #fauciouchie #vaccinemask #fullyvaccinated #getthevaccine #cottonbandana #getvaxd 

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Merlot Advanced Fine Lines Cream - A natural skincare antioxidant that is made in USA [Review & Giveaway]

 Since 2001 Merlot Skin Care has developed gentle, good-for-you beauty products, each packed with the sensational power of natural grape seed antioxidants. 

Merlot's newest release:
Advanced Repair Fine Lines Cream.

My skincare includes using serums, moisturizers, oils, eye creams. Sometimes, I indulge in a spritz of Rosewater for refreshment. Today, we're talking fine lines - and specifically the new-to-market Merlot Advance Fine Lines Cream.

Merlot Advanced Repair Fine Lines Cream visibly improves skin by targeting fine lines and dark spots. It’s gentle and hydrating, and like all Merlot's products, made in the USA, with no parabens or animal testing. 

Merlot Advanced Repair Fine Lines Cream 

Merlot Advanced Repair Fine Lines Cream helps to visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark spots. Protects with grape seed antioxidants and Vitamin C. Utilizes a retinoic acid-like peptide, Myristoyl Tripeptide-31, to deliver the benefits of wrinkle-reducing retinol without the side-effects. Helps firm skin and increase luminosity. Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5 helps boost skin’s appearance. Made in USA, 2 fl oz. Retail price:  $17
  • Powerful grape seed antioxidants
  • Non-oily, absorbs quickly
  • Firms skin 
  • Amino acids
  • Moisturizing Shea Butter
Directions: Apply to the face and neck, targeting fine lines on the forehead and near the mouth and eyes. Smooth into skin until product is absorbed. Can be re-applied throughout the day.
Click here to buy product

I firmly believe that we should use creams to moisturize our face and we should do this a minimum of once daily. Preferably, twice a day. Depending on the ingredients, the creams act differently to preserve a youthful appearance to skin. The key, however, is to moisturize and to do it regularly.

I am quite pleasantly surprised at the quality of this "purse friendly" (aka-speak for budget friendly) line of skincare products. And the Merlot product line is  vegan, natural, cruelty free.  (If you check the Merlot skincare line website, you'll see that their focus is on the use of grape seed antioxidants in all of their products.)

When I apply my skincare products, I take it also as an opportunity for a "spa massage" focusing on my temples, forehead, jaw line, nasal bridge, between eyes,  crows feet areas, and throat. I apply product with firm, upward rotating massage using my splayed fingers. I thoroughly believe this helps me to relax, relieves tension, and massages the lymph system to aid in drainage. I just feel this is good for me. I even do this more than once a day when I have a headache or a particularly stressful day. And then, of course, it is a skincare treatment as well.

Using the Merlot Advanced Fine Lines Cream is refreshing with a pleasant, light hint of "fresh air" scent, and literally feels good on my skin. Great under makeup or simply for those "go natural" days.

The recommended use is daily on cleansed skin. I am totally enjoying this lovely face cream.
All Merlot Skin Care products are made in the USA (in Texas) and are cruelty-free. Find them at
Jar: Merlot Advanced Fine Lines Cream
Begins July 3
Ends July 28 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Merlot or its representative.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Return to the Big Valley - 3 Novellas by by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Jean Brunstetter, & Richelle Brunstetter

My thoughts:
This edition of three novellas by authors who all have the same last name, Brunstetter, is a sweet, relaxing read that showcases the manner that Amish folks live on a daily basis. The stories are not interconnected and can each be read as stand-alone novellas.

I believe my most enjoyable story of the three is that by Richelle Brunstetter who is a new author for me. I found the main character, Alma, an interesting individual who as a young widow handles her grief in unexpected ways.

Friday, June 25, 2021

National Geographic Kids Books for Land AND Sea Lovers (4-book #giveaway USA)

National Geographic Kids Books offers new, fascinating nonfiction for kids who love to learn more about the natural world around them. These titles are perfectly paired with summer adventures and back to school prep.  

Weird But True!: Ocean (ages 8-12, paperback, June 2021) 

My thoughts: This is a small book that packs a punch presenting scores of interesting and weird facts about the World's oceans.   Interesting....
  • The Blue Whale's heart beats only 10 times per minute.
  • Hammerhead Shark can move it's head up and down (to pin stingrays to ocean floor) as well as sideways.
  • The Pacific Ocean is 5 times wider than the Moon.
So many that the young reader will shout out to Mom and Dad, "Hey, did you know......"

Great take-along book for trips!

About the book: Dive into these fishy facts: Did you know that the prehistoric shark, megalodon, had jaws so big that it could swallow a car? Or that goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and even an alpaca have all learned how to surf? And if that's not weird enough for you, one man even rowed solo across the Pacific Ocean for 312 days!  In this book filled with 300 facts and pictures, you'll glimpse the ocean's weirdest wildlife, uncover shocking shipwrecks, and meet sensational seafarers, from pirates and sailors to ground-breaking marine scientists. Perfect for ocean enthusiasts and trivia-loving landlubbers alike!

New Series Alert!  "Go Wild!"  for curious kids ages 4-8 -  Go Wild! Pandas & Go Wild! Sea Turtles (hardcover, June 2021)

My thoughts:  In Go Wild! Sea Turtles the author gives nuggets of information about the variety of turtles that live in the sea. About their shells, where they live, what they eat, their dangers. A lot of really good information and, of course, those wonderful National Geographic pictures.

In Go Wild! Pandas these adorable bears grace the pages as they frolic or rolly polly along.  Again, National Geographic's pictures are adorable and fascinating. This children's book goes beyond the usual "cute" Panda book and allows children to really learn about this unusual bear. With only about 1,800 in existence today, they are worthy of study and preservation. 

About the books: Welcome to the wild world of pandas and sea turtles! In these intros to the species, youngsters discover where on Earth these animals live, what they eat, how big they grow, and how they communicate. Cool photos of all the different kinds of sea turtles and panda relatives and just-hatched turtle babies and panda cubs bring the creatures into full focus. After learning the basics, young readers will discover why pandas and sea turtles need our help and what people around the world are doing to help save them. Filled with fun facts, games, and an activity focused on making a difference in the panda and sea turtle world, both titles in the new Go Wild! series will inspire kids to care about these adorable animals.

Little Kids First Big Book of Rocks, Minerals and Shells (ages 4-8, hardcover, July 2021) #1 New Release in Children's Rock & Mineral Books (on Amazon)

My thoughts:  A new "Little Kids First Big Book" loaded with fascinating information. This time it's all about the "hard things on Earth" - Rocks, Minerals, and Shells. There is so much to explore in this book. Children can see the mundane as well as the exotic types of minerals and rocks along with the beauty of shells along the seashore.

A good book to include for homes and libraries everywhere.

About the book: Get ready to be dazzled! This new addition to the wildly popular Little Kids First Big Book series introduces a fascinating variety of Earth’s rocks, minerals, gemstones, fossils, and shells -- from granite to gold, marble to malachite, and conchs to clams. Discover how rocks are formed, the three kinds of rocks, and the difference between rocks and minerals. Learn how rocks and minerals are used in art, architecture, industry, and science. Then journey to the oceans to explore seashells and the amazing animals that once inhabited them. Packed with more than 200 stunning photos, including closeups of each specimen, this colorful book showcases breathtaking natural sites such as the Giant’s Causeway and human-built structures such as the Great Wall of China. Filled with fun facts and designed for interactive learning, the Little Kids First Big Book of Rocks, Minerals, and Shells is sure to become a favorite with young rock and shell collectors and their parents.
All 4 books from National Geographic $56 Value
Begins June 25
Ends July 21 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. @NationalGeokids @MMPublicity

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Atticus Caticus, How to Apologize, and Wild Is the Wind picture books entertain young readers [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

Atticus Caticus by Sarah Maizes & illustrated by Kara Kramer (Candlewick Press ISBN: 9781536208405 Ages 3-7)

My thoughts:
They rhythmic, snappy cadence of this cute book with its plethora of "at" rhymes is enjoyable to read. It is a story of a cat and a boy going about their day. 

A fun read but parents may get their tongues twisted around all the rat-a-tat-rat and atti-cati-at sounds. Have fun! 

About the book: Snap your fingers to the beat as a boy introduces us to his beloved (and oh-so-recognizably feline) cat. Whether Atticus is lying in the sun or stealing a sip from a water glass, sharpening his nails on a favorite chair or settling in for the night on his boy’s head, this cat will win your heart—and maybe inspire you to improvise a few riffs of poetry about your own animal friends.

How to Apologize by David LaRochelle & illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka (Candlewick Press ISBN: 9781536209440 Ages 3-7)

My thoughts:
This is such a cute book and a very much needed lesson in how to apologize. I just love this this social skill is so aptly illustrated and told in this cute story.

I highly recommend it to homes and all types of libraries.

About the book: Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone knew how to apologize? Luckily, this humorous guidebook is full of practical tips about when, why, and how to say you’re sorry. From a porcupine who accidentally popped his friend’s balloon to a snail who was running so fast he stepped on a sloth’s toes, hilarious examples and sweet illustrations abound. For both listeners who are just learning and older readers who need a refresher, this book will come as a welcome reminder that even though apologizing can be hard, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Wild is the Wind by Grahame Baker-Smith (Templar Books, ISBN: 9781536217926 Ages 4-8)

My thoughts:
This is a beautifully illustrated book that creatively tells a story of  the might and power of the wind to exert massive changes on Earth. It is told as a swift (small bird) makes its journey across over 8,000 miles to find it's place to nest and lay eggs.

A gently and beautifully told story that is a joy to read. I like, too, that the author/illustrator did this as a project during his "Covid lockdown" and dedicated it to the multitude of individuals who did so much during the pandemic.

About the book: Cassi watches a little swift dive and swoop in the still air. In the rising sun the world seems to be holding its breath. Then a small breeze stirs the leaves in the trees, and as the wind grows bolder, a whiff of danger sends small creatures running for cover. Across the ocean, the wind awakes with a fury, whipping the waves and cresting each one with wild white horses. And further on, around the still eye of a hurricane, clouds are carved into a great spiral, howling with stormy power. All this is witnessed by the swift as it finally comes to nest on the other side of the world, where the great wind has abated. Follow the amazing path of a swift in Kate Greenaway Award–winning illustrator Grahame Baker-Smith's follow-up to The Rhythm of the Rain.

Begins June 24
Ends July 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA/CANADA addresses
NO P.O. Boxes. Phone # required for Canada winners
DISCLOUSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Reflections on a father's love and steadfastness



As I reflect on today - Father's Day, I think of my father and some of the things he did for me. As a young child (under 6 years) I was very sickly, anemic, and had double-pneumonia 5 times. This required hospitalization in the "Babies' Hospital" in Wilmington, NC. This was a forward-thinking hospital in those days. Consider that this was very early 1940s. One of those hospitalizations I ran a fever that just wouldn't break so the treatment was a bathtub filled with water and ice. My mother helped the nurses hold me down in the icy bath. Another time more desperate measures had to be made to build up my sick body. It called for a blood transfusion.

My father's blood was transfused directly from his body into mine. We were on adjacent tables and the tubes ran from him to me. Yes, it was successful. And yes, my father saved my life.

There was no penicillin back then. Only sulfur drugs and injections to build up the blood.

But dad's doing things for me didn't end with saving my life as a small child. No, he influenced me with his steadfast determination to do all he could and do it the best he could. He took correspondence courses in Biblical Theology becoming a respected and knowledgeable lay preacher. He also took a correspondence course in accounting qualifying him to do the accounting for businesses around town. He studied nights after working a long, hard day. He did his bookkeeping for businesses at night after a long hard day. Yes, he was a hard working, intelligent, steadfast man.

He had a love for swimming and as a young single man had participated in swimming and gymnastics at the local YMCA. When summer came he took his family of 3 children, plus mother, to the beach as frequently as possible during the summer months in North Carolina. We lived just a few miles from the beach so it was convenient. One beach trip, he became frustrated at me when I wouldn't just dive head first into the crashing waves. So he laughingly took hold of me and led me out into the deeper waves, past the breakers, over my head. The he grasped me, lifted me up, and toward shore gave a toss that drove me to swim with all my might. From then on, I loved swimming beyond the breakers where the water rolled over you, lifting, lowering you in peaceful joy.

Yes, he sometimes drove me to be more, do more, go further than I thought I could. Strive to swim. Push for an "A."

He was a good father and on my wedding day he gave me away with joyfulness to the man that would become the father of his grandchildren.

I was always the "apple of his eye" and his "pride and joy."

I love you, Dad, and thank you so much for everything.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sleep Like Me By Written and Illustrated by Tatia Nadareishvili

ISBN: 9780802855664
Eerdmans Publishing
Hardcover $17.99

My thoughts: 
The young boy can't fall asleep so he takes a walk. While out and about he encounters a variety of animals and tells them he can't sleep. So they tell him how they sleep. Attempting to position himself as the various animals doesn't aid him in his sleep difficulties. 

Eventually, he tires and returns home. Gets into his bed. And...... falls asleep.

A cute story about getting oneself tired enough to actually fall asleep. I like that it actually teaches how various animals do sleep.

About the book: A little boy can’t fall asleep, so he asks the animals how they do it. Will he doze off if he floats on his back like an otter? If he keeps one eye open like a duck? If he hangs upside down like a bat? Nothing seems to help, but all this trying is getting tiring…

This whimsically illustrated book features the real sleeping habits of ten different animals. Whether you snooze like a whale or nod off like a giraffe, Sleep Like Me is the perfect bedtime story for restless nights.

Begins June 20
Ends July 15 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone, and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Eerdmans' Young Readers. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Children's Board & Interactive Books Delight [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

Sophie’s Seashell Scramble illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti, Candlewick Entertainment (ISBN: 9781536218480, Ages 0-3)

My thoughts: Such a cutie and so much fun! Each page has the reader looking under three flaps to find a certain shell with designs on them. The "oops" and "not here" add to the fun under the flaps. 

At the end of the book there is a turning option to find the shells again. 

Book is cute and the interactive options add to pleasure.

About the book: Down on the ocean floor, Sophie the otter is collecting pairs of seashells. She’s hoping to find two of each kind—purple shells covered in triangles, green shells with squiggles, red shells with squares, and yellow shells with dots—and she needs little readers’ help! Inspired by a popular game, and with plenty of flaps to explore, this fun, sturdy board book in the Sneaky Snacky Squirrel series strengthens matching skills as well as color and shape recognition.

My thoughts: These are the "Cat's Meow" since they both feature lythe cats meandering all over the ABC's and the 123's in these joyful books.

ABC Cats uses more complex words as letter identifiers which I think is a splendid method to expand a young child's vocabulary.

In 123 Cats the author isn't simply adding a cat to each page, personality traits are being explored as well as going beyond the usual "10" to a "12" or "cats are better by the dozen."

The primary colors, basic alphabet and numbers teaching concepts along with climbing, slithering, peeking cats is so much fun for grown ups and kiddies.

Especially appealing to families of young children who have cats as well. Get both books as they are a delight!

123 Cats: A Cat Counting Book by Leslea Newman & Illustrated by Isabella Kung (ISBN: 9781536209952, Ages 2-5)

Count on cats as a fun way to learn numbers—in rhyming spreads with expressive appeal for animal lovers of all ages.

ABC Cats: An Alpha-Cat Book by Leslea Newman & Illustrated by Isabella Kung (ISBN: 9781536209945, Ages 2-5)

A beguiling array of felines from A to Z makes learning the alphabet the cat’s pajamas.

Begins June 17
Ends July 9 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
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. Winner's copies are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Dusks Darkest Shores (Regency Wallflowers #1) by Carolyn Miller

My thoughts:
  I thoroughly enjoy author Carolyn Miller's books. From her very first published book, The Elusive Miss Ellison, she has captured the beauty of a Regency novel with her character development and sheer reading pleasure.

This new series of "Regency Wallflowers" with the unfolding blossom that is the sweet and caring Mary Bloomfield who is beloved in the village as her medical doctor's gifted assistant.

But this story is not just about Mary and her blooming recognition by young Adam Edgerton who returns badly damaged from the war, it is rich with the unfolding care of a man whose new blindness plunges him into a darkness deep with despair and total lack of future.

But Mary has ideas and brings him out of this dark shore upon which Adam has landed.

A sweet story and totally enjoyable. 

About the book: How can a meek wallflower help a returning war hero whose dreams are plunged into darkness?

Mary Bloomfield has no illusions. Her chances for matrimony have long since passed her by. Still, her circumstances are pleasant enough, especially now that she has found purpose in assisting her father with his medical practice in England's beautiful Lake District. Even without love, it's a peaceful life.

That is until Adam Edgerton returns to the sleepy district. This decorated war hero did not arrive home to acclaim and rest, but to a new battle against the repercussions of an insidious disease. Mary's caring nature cannot stand to see someone suffer--but how can she help this man see any brightness in his future when he's plunged into melancholic darkness, his dreams laid waste by his condition?

Adam wants no charity, but he's also no coward. If this gentle woman can work hard, how can he do less? Together they struggle to find a way forward for him. Frustration and antipathy slowly develop into friendship and esteem. Then a summer storm atop a mountain peak leads to scandal--and both Mary and Adam must search the depths of their closed hearts for answers if they hope to find any future path with happiness at its end.

Best-selling author Carolyn Miller is back with a fresh series that will not only thrill readers eager for more of her work, but bring in new fans looking for beautiful writing, fascinating research, deftly woven love stories, and real faith lived out in the Regency period.

About the Author: Carolyn Miller is an inspirational romance author who lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia with her husband and four children.

A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. She enjoys music, films, gardens, art, travel and food.

A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn's novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers. Learn more about Carolyn at or find her on Facebook (Carolyn Miller Author), Instagram (@CarolynMillerAuthor), and Twitter (@CarolynMAuthor). 

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

WHOLLY® Avocado makes meal prep fast for everyone.

The product is good, all natural, just avocado and would really save a lot of time in preparing dishes where you need several avocados at a time. I really like that the prepared avocado lasts longer in the unopened package than an unused whole avocado. Once the package is open, though, they do turn brown just as a freshly prepared avocado would. There are NO preservatives. It is so special that it does not include ANY additives. Really makes food prep a breeze. I don't use a lot of avocados and the 8 oz package is probably the best option for me.

I purchased 3 of the packages of the prepared WHOLLY® Avocado as a #WhollyAvocadoInsiders reviewer and it is more than I can use in the freshness period, I shared a couple of the packs with my neighbor. They are Hispanic and I thought they'd enjoy. The eyes of the young lady really lit up when she saw the Wholly Avocado products. She said, "Yes, they could use them. We use lots of Avocado!" I loved sharing and it introduced my neighbor to this delightful new product!

Such a treat to not have to prepare an avocado. And a double treat for me since as I got to sample these for free via @theinsidersus group featuring #WhollyAvocadoInsiders. Super treat!

 #avocado #avocadopieces @eatwholly #founditatWalmart @theinsidersus

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


Searching the shelves of stores or the internet for skin care products can be a daunting, perplexing experience. You almost never know what the spend your hard-earned money on and fear it will be the wrong product for you.

If you're searching for natural products, you don't know if they are well-done, safe, pure, or will do the job you want - cleanse, protect, and help you avoid those awful signs of aging. So is it give and take, search and seek, hit and miss? Yep! A bit of all of that. However, there is hope.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

The Story of Bodri by Hédi Fried & illustrated by Stina Wirsén [Review & Giveaway]

 My thoughts: The inclusion of the horrors of WWII in the world of children's picture books is a daunting task to effectively bring to remembrance the terrible conditions of that period of history in our World and yet not traumatize the young reader. In The Story of Bodri the author in terse text and the illustrator's bold black ink and watercolor art has especially revealed the upheaval, heartbreak, dire circumstances of the times. 

Bridge of Gold (Doors to the Past #3) by Kimberley Woodhouse (from Barbour Publishing)

My thoughts: 
Set in the present day, the story involves a crew of underwater divers who are assigned the task of repairing the Gold Gate Bridge and an archeologist who is assigned the responsibility of retrieval of a sunken ship's treasures and archeological items. 

As the divers work together in the turbulent waters of the California bay emptying into the Pacific Ocean, their safety concerns as undersea divers becomes more treacherous as a dual mystery unfolds regarding their findings on the sunken ship. 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Nature of a Lady (The Secrets of the Isles #1) by Roseanna M. White

My thoughts: 
This lovely story takes place on the Isles of Scilly off the coast of Cornwall. I frankly loved the folks in the story that reside on the islands. Their sweetness, their caring, their crankiness, their feuds, and their love and friendship. I can imagine the breezes blowing off the water across the small land masses and the lovely skies and water scenes.

Life on the isles meets an "invasion" of Lords and Ladies from England as they vacation on the islands, meet up with acquaintances, and generally bring an atmosphere of interference into the lives of the good folks on the island.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Three varied books for the picture book set - A rock falls from the sky, some Midsummer Night's Dreaming, and a bird Free [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press Hardcover ISBN: 9781536215625, Ages 4-8)

My thoughts: 
Children and parents alike will enjoy this lengthy (90+ pages) of the author's droll, somewhat dark humor as they contemplate the conversation between turtle, armadillo, and snake. Friends who converse on which spot is best to sit and ponder life. Barely escaping disaster from the rock that falls from the sky, they seem to be completely unaware of circumstances and focused on which spot they are to sit.

This is a "chapter" book that will delight early readers. Again, a sense of unaware foreboding exists and droll subtle happenings. And, yes, the "eyes" have it! 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Dusk's Darkest Shores by Carolyn Miller [Giveaway Ends June 15]

About the book: How can a meek wallflower help a returning war hero whose dreams are plunged into darkness?

Mary Bloomfield has no illusions. Her chances for matrimony have long since passed her by. Still, her circumstances are pleasant enough, especially now that she has found purpose in assisting her father with his medical practice in England's beautiful Lake District. Even without love, it's a peaceful life.