Tuesday, December 28, 2021

At the Height of the Moon edited by Alison Baverstock, Matt Cunningham, & Annette Roeder from Prestel Publishing [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

At the Height of the Moon - A Book of Bedtime Poetry and Art

ISBN: 9783791374802
US $24.95 | Canada $33.95
Prestel Publishing
My thoughts:  First impressions..... This is a beautifully bound book that is sturdy and will last a long time. Included are beautiful reproductions of art from a variety of periods. The book is marketed as for ages 5 to 9 or kindergarten to grade 4. Frankly, I don't see this as a book for that age group based on the illustrations alone. Also, there are some art reproductions that show full frontal nudity. 

Now to look at it as a book of poetry and other readings - a variety of traditional, classic, and modern poetry. The book's divisions are in bed time or sleepy time themes - twilight, dreamland, moonlight menagerie, creepy crawlies & things that go bump in the night, minds ablaze, and midnight & magic.

I was delighted to see Edgar Allen Poe's "Annabelle Lee" included though I despair of seeing it as a bedtime reading for young children. In addition to poetry, there were short readings (essays or short stories) that were very pleasant and enjoyable. Included were some of my favorite poets - Robert Browning, Robert Burns, Lewis Carroll, Charles Mackay, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman (Captain, My Captain). 

The art selection was beautiful and would expose children of any age to the variety and artistry of beautiful works of art. I did personally believe, however, that some selections were out-of-bounds for inclusion in a collection of poetry and bedtime stories as some full nudity was shown as were fierce witch creatures or fairy-land creatures. These were not depictions of the "big bad wolf of the 3 little pigs" or of  "the witch or old lady in Little Red Riding Hood." These were the stuff of nightmares and "mid summer's nights dreams." I consider young children's books out of bounds for this type artistic expression even though beautifully executed and the creation of a famous artist.

I totally agree with exposing young children to written poetry and stories even though the meanings and vocabulary are beyond their comprehension. It is a way to grow the child's mind and aid in growing a strong vocabulary and method of expression for himself.

So many good points and some not so good points about At the Height of the Moon

About the book: Drawing from centuries of artistic and literary traditions from around the world, this gorgeous bedtime book pairs works of art with poems and short fiction. Divided into eight thematic sections it features dozens of double-paged spreads that families will turn to again and again as part of their bedtime routine. The carefully chosen, diverse selection of images includes works by John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keeffe, Utagawa Hiroshige and Henri Le Sidoner among many others, beautifully reproduced in luminous color. Accompanying these artworks are poems, mediations and short fiction that range from lighthearted verse to eerie folktales. Together these words and pictures create meaningful impressions that children will treasure and remember as they drift off to sleep—and hold onto for the rest of their lives.

Begins December 29
Ends January 22 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, December 24, 2021

It's Christmas.. .. ..

 And this is Christmas.....

There is so much of Christmas everywhere. Its lights on trees. Songs in the air. Smiles on faces. Toys in shops. Crowds in stores. It’s shopping in malls and stores on the corner. It’s cooking in the kitchen - cookies and cakes and pies of the season. Its harried Moms and Dads. Its jaded store employees and fretful owners. It’s a gleam in the eye of a child. A ring of a bell beside a red kettle. Its church choirs in harmony rejoicing at a miracle of God become man in the form of a babe.
It is sadness in the eyes of the homeless. It is tattered coats and sleeves too short on children suffering from want or abuse. It is the ch-ching-ching of a register as a shopper buys an eloquent gift while a hungry child looks longingly through the window of a restaurant.
It is despair. It is hope. It is joy. It is sadness.
But most of all it is God.
God Himself in the form of a newborn infant in wrappings of rags or swaddling clothes. It is a rank stable or manger. It is a gentle virgin’s warm embrace. It is love. Love where God looks on man’s wayward heart and says it is time for His Son to bring redemption.
Christmas is a babe. Christmas is Christ the incarnate Son of God.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

The Debutante's Code (Thorndike & Swann Regency Mysteries #1) by Erica Vetsch

My thoughts:  I have such a good time when I read an Erica Vetsch book. Her writing style is delightful; and she captures the essence of each character's speech, actions, dress, personality, and flaws. She weaves a tale with touches of history and a bit of her own fiction embroidery to flesh it out.

As fiction, it is rich in the Regency period's social distancing and mores. Her characters stay within the set limitations of do's and don'ts, as well as acting and doing things a bit "out of the box."

When I first saw the title The Debutante's Code, I thought it was going to be about the rules of being a debutante and that which determines accepted behavior, dress, speech, and social standing. Little did I realize this was not what the title inferred.

I loved the mystery and how the story resolved. I look forward to more in the Thorndike and Swann Regency Mysteries series of stories. I rather expect to see more of the same characters in the upcoming books and just wonder where things will take them.

About the Book: Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series

Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Elin Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn't spent much time with her parents, and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love. But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They've been living double lives as government spies--and they're only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family's legacy.

Now Lady Elin is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spies. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors--not to mention the nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner, who suspects her of a daring theft.

Can Lady Elin outwit her enemies and complete her parents' last mission?

Best-selling author Erica Vetsch is back with a rollicking, exciting new series destined to be a hit with Regency readers who enjoy a touch of mystery in their love stories. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, and Anne Perry will love the wit, action, and romance.

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

Monday, December 13, 2021

Hand saving hot pads and bamboo spoons for stirring save the day in the kitchen. [Review & Giveaway]

Do you ever want to do something somewhat unique for a special someone? Well, I do and I acted on that desire to do it.

I found a lady who needed a means to get through the Covid-19 financial fiasco. She being an inventive individual, she engaged sewers in the New York/New Jersey area and began to market unique items that we use every day.

As a reader of Chat With Vera, you've probably seen a few of the items she has in her ShopgalNY2020 Etsy Store. Some items that caught my eye were the State and City prints made into aprons, kitchen towels, and hot pads (pot holders). Since my five grown "kids" live in cities and states all across our grand United States of America, I decided to gift each of them with an apron, kitchen towel, and hot pad. That meant.... California, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina. And since there are two of them in North Carolina, I also selected the capital which is Raleigh.

Just to give you a little taste of how delightful these kitchen items are, we're hosting a little giveaway. Prize is 2 pot holders and a bamboo spoon.

If you want to go ahead and purchase something from ShopgalNY's Etsy Store, here's a DISCOUNT CODE  - Friends15 - for 15% discount. You can use it to save a bit. You'll also be supporting a woman owned, small business, and sewn in USA products. Shop Here

Or you can chat on Instagram with @ShopgalNY and work out the details of an order if you have something special or unique in mind. You can still use the discount code: Friends15

2 Pot Holders & Bamboo Spoon
Design of item selected by ShopgalNY
Begins December 13
Ends January 6 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: ShopgalNY is responsible for providing and shipping the winner's prize directly to them. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Winter reading..... "The Wind In the Willows" & "Winter Lullaby" [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

ISBN: 9781536219999
US $19.99 | CAN $25.99
Grades 2-5

Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame illustrated by Grahame Baker-Smith

My thoughts:  This copy of The Wind In the Willows is an absolutely charming rendition of the classic book that has charmed multitudes of children. The binding is very sturdy, trade edition, that will last through beloved handling by more than one generation of delighted readers.

First printed in 1908, this children's novel has spanned over 100 years of being a favorite. This edition's illustrations by Grahame Baker-Smith capture the essence of the original critters but have a more modern artistic rendering that will appeal to children today. Had this copy been printed in 1908 with Mr. Baker-Smith's illustrations, it would have truly delighted your great-grandparents who might have held it and read it.

As Mole, Rat, Toad, and Badger go on picnics, boat rides, visits to Toad Hall, etc. they have a way of straightening each other out,  helping with each other's character flaws, and simply coping with life. For as Toad said, My friends, you shall never have occasion to blush for me again. But, O dear, this is a hard world!"

While I have never read this book in its entirety, it is a classic. The text is longish but makes for a good read-aloud and discussion. I think it ranks along with fairy tales, animal/critter stories, and fantasy. This would make a beautiful, and welcome, Christmas or birthday gift to a child (and his parents). Buy it: Chapters.Indigo.com Amazon Barnes&Noble 

About the book: One of the most beloved classics of all time is updated for a new generation with beautiful illustrations by Grahame Baker-Smith.

There is nothing--absolutely nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.

From picnics by the river bank to the battle for Toad Hall, the adventures of Mole, Ratty, Badger, and the mischievous Mr. Toad have delighted generations of readers. Rediscover Kenneth Grahame's timeless classic in this complete and unabridged edition, illustrated by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Grahame Baker-Smith.

ISBN: 9781536209198
$17.99 | Ages 4-8

Winter Lullaby by Dianne White

My thoughts:   A very sweet book about mama bear and her questioning baby cub bear. The illustrations are beautifully drawn using the colors of fall and winter that tend to help the mind sense the urgency of mama bear's getting little bear to their hibernation den.

Baby bear questions "why" as so many toddlers tend to do. Why do I have to sleep when rabbit or mouse, etc. don't? 

Still meandering along the way, without hesitation mama answers baby but doesn't neglect to continue to pursue putting the toddler to bed. It is a rather lengthy traipse through the woods but they do arrive at their destination and baby is tucked away snuggled beside mama for the long winter sleep.

A sweet book to treasure.

About the book: #1 New Release in Children's Bear Books - Rendered with reassuring words and pastoral scenes, this soothing lullaby of a story is sure to settle even the most restless of cubs.

Mouse is rushing to her nest.
In soft, dry grasses she will rest.

Geese are calling, a chilly wind is blowing, and the sky is turning gray. Winter is on its way. For Mama Bear and Small Bear, that means it’s time to tuck into their den for a long sleep. But Mouse is scurrying by, and Chipmunk is still gathering nuts beside the lake. And look at Hare and Skunk, still romping through the leaves! Why can’t Small Bear stay up, too? To each question, Mama Bear responds with the coziest of answers, finally painting a dreamy picture of the brightening colors and new adventures that will greet Small Bear in the spring. But first comes sleep, in this irresistible invitation to drowsy little cubs everywhere.

Both books to 2 winners!
Begins December 10
Ends January 15 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
NO P.O. Boxes
Canadian winners must provide phone number.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winners by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Only Margaret: A Story About Margaret Wise Brown by Candice Ransom & illustrated by Nan Lawson from Eerdmans Young Readers Books [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: 
As a children's picturebook biography, Only Margaret: A Story About Margaret Wise Brown is well done. We know "Margaret Wise Brown" as the author of a plethora of children's books and specifically Goodnight Moon - that much loved bedtime storybook.

When Margaret Brown began publishing children's books and stories, there were not that many authors, illustrators, and publishers of the genre. There was a need. There were some, true. There was not a large market, financially, for them, though. But Margaret Brown had difficulty finding her "place" in the world and what she wanted to do. She thought she liked to write but didn't like writing for adults, and didn't like "commas." So she began to explore words, the world, and thoughts and jotted them down on envelopes, and whatever. Soon she began writing short children's stories. A dream was the fuel for Goodnight Moon.

As a quirky individual, her life took her from place to place; and wherever she went, she discovered more ideas for her stories.

I am always a fan of entertaining non-fiction and particularly picturebook biographies for children. So Only Margaret was an exciting choice for me. There is a partial list of her works at the back of the book as well as a biographic timeline of her life.

Her life and relationships is not one that I can endorse with the exception of the children's books I have seen that she authored. The author of this biographic picturebook handled her relationship with  care as is appropriate for children. 

About the book: When Halley’s comet arrived in 1910, so did an extraordinary person: Margaret Wise Brown. Margaret had a boundless imagination and a gift for spinning stories. Most grown-ups thought children’s books were frivolous and silly, but Margaret didn’t agree. Could writing stories for children be important work—a incredible way to share truth, beauty, and wonder?  

Other people might call Margaret strange, and sometimes her own worries and doubts felt overwhelming. But only Margaret and her original ideas could lead to Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny­, and other classics beloved by children around the world. 

From smuggling rabbits onto trains, to scribbling stories about island whispers, Margaret embraced adventure in life and on the page. This whimsically illustrated biography shares how an independent, fun-loving woman became a trailblazing pioneer of the picture-book form.

Begins December 7
Ends January 3 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Eerdmans Publishing. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Love Under Construction by Penny Zeller [Book Spotlight & Giveaway]

About the book: She builds websites. He builds houses. Together, can they build a home for two orphans?

Irelynn agreed two years ago to help raise her best friend’s twins should anything happen. When she is called upon to fulfill that agreement, there is only one problem—Irelynn must share the responsibility with the arrogant but handsome Quinton Gregory. 

 Quinton takes the role of raising his niece and nephew with all seriousness. He will do anything for the twins, even if it means putting up with the beautiful but stubborn Irelynn Brady.  

When forced to be in each other’s presence far more often than is comfortable, things slowly begin to change. Will the unexpected attraction between Irelynn and Quinton become a love under construction?

Author Bio: Penny Zeller is known for her heartfelt stories of faith and her passion to impact lives for Christ through fiction. While she has had a love for writing since childhood, she began her adult writing career penning articles for national and regional publications on a wide variety of topics. Today Penny is a multi-published author of several inspirational books. She is also a homeschool mom and a fitness instructor. 

When Penny is not dreaming up new characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters while camping, hiking, canoeing, reading, running, cycling, gardening, and playing volleyball. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and loves to hear from her readers at her www.pennyzeller.com and her blog, random thoughts from a day in the life of a wife, mom, and author, at www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com

Begins December 6
Ends January 3, 2022 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes. Prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by the author.

Where to find Penny:

Website: www.pennyzeller.com
Blog: www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/pennyzellerbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/PennyZeller
Instagram: www.instagram.com/pennyzeller
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/zellerpenny

Sunday, December 5, 2021

A Deep Divide by Kimberley Woodhouse

My thoughts:  I have read several books by Kimberly Woodhouse and enjoyed them. A Deep Divide was an enjoyable read but not a favorite. Still, I believe it ranks a 4-star.

Emma Grace was born into a life of luxury but rife with trouble. Kidnapped at an early age, her mother died, her father planned to "auction" her to the highest bidder to deepen the coffers of his treasure. Certainly not a gilded life.

So she escapes. She runs off with some family jewelry and travels incognito across the country working as a waitress. Quite the plunge from a life of wealth and riches.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Dachshund Through The Snow by Michelle Medlock Adams (A Christmasy story) [Review & Giveaway - Ends 12/15/21]

My thoughts:
My daughter brought her children's teeny, short-legged dog when they visited over the Thanksgiving holidays. It was entertaining to watch this wee one traipse all over the house and helped me visualize little Crosby the teeniest dachshund in this sweet story.

My 7 year old great-grand daughter is happily anticipating my passing my book along to her and I know it will bring much reading joy to her.

Now about teeny Crosby....  This is a charming, sweetly illustrated story about a teeny tiny dachshund saving Christmas. Well, actually he burrows under the snow escaping the ridicule of the other animals and runs into a cave when the snow storm turns into a ice storm. In the cave he meets Santa and the reindeer who have sought refuge from the storm inside the cave.

The illustrations simply capture the spirit of this spritely little dog and his desire to "be something" and not be ridiculed by others.

A fun book with good lessons to be learned.

About the book: Crosby was teeny. Even for a miniature dachshund. In fact, he was the teeniest dachshund in the whole town. But his small stature and big heart made Crosby one of the best burrowers in all of the North Pole. That's why he couldn't wait to enter the North Pole Animal Olympics and burrow his way to a gold medal. Finally old enough to compete, Crosby goes to town to register on Dec. 23, but when he encounters lots of hecklers and bullies who make fun of his small size, Crosby loses his confidence. With his tail tucked between his legs, he burrows as fast and far away from town as he can, running smack dab into a stranded Santa and his divine destiny. Will this unlikely hero save Christmas?

Four to eight-year-olds will be on the edge of their seats as this holiday picture book page-turner unfolds.

You can learn more about the book here and also purchase - CLICK HERE 

Click Here To Access Entry Form - Ends 12/15/21

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Giveaway is hosted by publicist FrontGateChristian and they are responsible for providing and distribution of prizes.

Really cute, practical dish towel & pot holder sets from Shopgal2020 Etsy Shop perfect for unique gifts [Review & Giveaway]

If you want to gift someone anytime with something a bit unusual, why not a set of apron, dish towel, and pot holder in their favorite State or City or a trendy, cheeky print? I have 5 grown kids and I got a set for each of them as gifts "just because." But now at the holiday gifting season it's a perfect answer. Etsy Store click here

Absolutely lovely! "Rock Words" to encourage.
"You Shine" "Give Thanks" "Be Brave"

"Georgia" apron & hot pad

There are towel/potholder sets already sewn and just waiting for you to find. Go to ShopgalNY2020 Etsy shop and select a win-win pattern for your gifting needs. As ShopgalNY says, "One person purchased 25 sets with bamboo spoons for holiday gifts of NYC. But has evolved to foodie item.  Lots of requests for sushi, wine, martinis patterns.  New pot holders and flour sack dish towels reworked to add fabric & Rick rack trim. 

And to make it a happy time on Chat With Vera, I'm hosting with ShopgalNY a giveaway of one set of dish towel/pot holder to arrive in January. ShopgalNY will select a design to send winner.

Just a few of the designs from which to choose!

Special orders are available, but with time limitations of Christmas, if you want order for Christmas, selection may be limited to articles currently on Etsy
Find them on Etsy -
Shop using Friends15 for a 15% discount.
Begins December 4
Ends December 31 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary dish towel and pot holder to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by ShopgalNY2020 Etsy shop. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.