Sunday, June 26, 2022

Unique, hand-made coasters keep furniture surfaces pristine and are conversation starters [Review & Giveaway]

I've reviewed (and also purchased and gifted to family) various items sewn in Woodstock, NY and offered by SHOPGALNY. These items are unique and most often one-of-a-kind. SHOPGALNY has now set up shop on eBay at and the seller's name on eBay is ACTORSKLOSET11375. 

Well, my friend, ShopgalNY sent me a set of "Golden Girls" coasters. These are 4" coasters made of 100% Cotton and are simply adorable. What a fun gift these would make for that "Golden Girl" in your life - grandmama, your "senior" babysitter, your neighbor, your former Sunday School teacher. 

I was so tickled when I received these. You see, I'm in the Golden Girl stage of life. And my cleaning lady refers to me as "one of her Golden Girls." What fun!

This set of 4 sells for $32.99 with an eBay starting bid of $24.99. Each set is unique. But there is a plethora of designs available from athletics, theatrical, political, USA State of choice, etc. Be sure to check them all out. You choose the design of your choice. Order your favorites by clicking here. Great gifts or simply gift yourself with a set.

Buy Golden Girls - click here

1 Set of coasters (no choice of style)
Begins June 27
Ends July 22 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by store owner. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Free Fall (The Quantico Files #3) by Nancy Mehl [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: 
The author, Nancy Mehl, has woven an intense story that had this reader experiencing a feeling of fear and foreboding. To imagine the feeling of women kidnapped and imprisoned knowing nothing about their captors nor location. Their fear. Their anxiety. Their dread of impending doom. 

As police and FBI work together to analyze the criminals, all their skills as Behavioral Analysts are tested and retested. The two main analysts are Logan and Alex who are the main characters in the story. They also have a history from the previous Quantico Files #2 book, Dead Fall, and a developing romantic interest.

The faith of the book's characters, Scriptural references and quotes, and prayer by characters bring a depth of realism that touches deeply the heart of Christian readers. 

Free Fall is an exciting, though scary, read and does well as a stand-alone story but is even more enjoyable if the reader has read the previous books Night Fall and Dead Fall. (Click links to read my reviews.)

About the book: Someone has been abducting women with long dark hair across Virginia. When the FBI is called in to help, Alex Donovan, a behavioral analyst, is tasked with putting together a profile. She's aided by her friend and colleague Logan Hart, but he has been acting strangely and won't say why. When the kidnapper demands that Alex meet him at an abandoned amusement park in exchange for the location of all his captives, she takes the bait. But the meeting proves to be a trap, and the building she's in explodes.

Finding herself imprisoned with several other women, Alex works to think one step ahead of her captor. But the more Logan and the BAU learn about the kidnapper, the more they fear Alex may not make it out alive this time.

Begins June 22
Ends July 19 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prize copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by the author or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Crescent Canna 5,000mg CBD Recovery Cream [Review, Giveaway, & Discount Code]

✅Available with 3,000 mg or 5,000 mg of CBD 
Extracted from organic, USA-grown hemp
THC-free, vegan, and paraben-free 
NOTE: I was of the understanding that CBD (hemp derived) products were legal in NC (my home state). It seems it is by federal law but by NC law maybe not. Here is a very interesting article on NC CBD law (click here) and I'll leave it up to readers to make their own personal decision. ⚖️

For some folks, pain is an ever-present enemy. It robs them of the ability to perform everyday tasks, experience the joy of movement, and at times drives them into a pit of despair.

They try standard over-the-counter pain relievers in ever increasing dosages. They often trod the path of opiates to gain that bliss of relief. They have surgical procedures to deaden nerves and provide relief through various methods. 

Often, they get no relief.

The natural compounds in CBD topicals provide a measure of relief to many through applications made from  hemp derived cannabis. Crescent Canna's CBD Recovery Cream contains over 99% pure CBD isolate derived from hemp. (Keep reading for the discount code.)

CBD Recovery Cream $29.99 - $149.99

  • 500 mg, 1,000 mg, 3,000 mg, or 5,000 mg of pure CBD per Recovery Cream
  • Extracted from organic, USA-grown hemp
  • THC-free, vegan, and paraben-free
  • Lab-tested for quality and purity. 

Ingredients: MCT Oil, Cannabidiol (CBD) Extract, Arnica Oil, Vitamin B6, Organic Aloe Leaf Juice, Organic Coconut Oil, MSM, Emulsifying Wax, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Glycerin, Organic Arnica Flower Extract, Sweet Basil Leaf Oil, Black Pepper Oil, Roman Chamomile Flower Oil, German Chamomile Flower Oil, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Citronella Oil, Eucalyptus Leaf Oil, Helichrysum Flower Oil, Ginger Root Oil, Pink Grapefruit Peel Oil, Juniper Berry Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Peppermint Oil, Pine Needle Oil, Ravensara Oil, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Spearmint Oil, Wild Oregano Oil, Organic Cypress Oil, Sweet Fennel Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Lavender Flower Oil, Organic Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid

Crescent Canna CBD Recovery Cream
$29.99 - $149.99 CLICK HERE TO BUY

My thoughts: This is a very pleasant smelling, soothing cream. I applied it to my hurting knee and also to the soft padded area at the base of my thumb. Both times I found some relief from the ache and pain I was experiencing in those areas. I found this to be a very pleasant cream and envision it as a really helpful product for when one overdoes activity in the garden or as a weekend athlete. I also have shared my bottle of the 5,000mg Recovery Cream with a family member who has major hip and knee problems. He, too, felt it to be helpful in relieving his pain.  CBD Recovery Cream click here to buy

Layering pain relief: 

I have found that normal dosages of pain relievers sometimes just don't get the job done. But I have also found that I can layer the products. By that I mean I might use a topical  application and then if that doesn't provide full relief, add an oral product as well. You have to be certain your body can tolerate each of the products and that you don't combine products that contain the same items causing over-dosing. Or perhaps you can use different products alternately on the off-hour.  I do think that topical relief such as the Crescent Canna recovery cream can benefit in a pain relief regime.

Here's your chance to purchase ANY ITEM on the Crescent Canna website using my affiliate discount. Just use the code GODLEY25 for a 25% discount! 

1 Crescent Canna 5,000 CBD Recovery Cream
$149.00 value
Begins June 20
Ends July 19 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary products to facilitate a review. I have used these products and only recommend products which I have used or a family member has used. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. No compensation was received to post this review and/or information. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Crescent Canna. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Knowledge of legality and compliance for/of use of CBD products in various areas is the responsibility of winners of this giveaway. Also, as is age requirements for said product usage.

This giveaway prize is provided by Crescent Canna who will ship the prize to the winner/s. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes. NOTE: Winning entry is randomly selected via Rafflecopter. Every winning entry selected WILL BE VERIFIED to make certain it is a qualifying entry. Email used to contact winner will be that which is registered with Rafflecopter. Winner has 48 hours from posting of winner to reply with requested information. Failure to comply in a timely manner will result in a new winner being chosen. There is no association with Facebook for this giveaway. Emails collected will be shared with Crescent Canna who is responsible for observing all regulations on commercial use of emails.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Children's picture books provide cultural introduction of China to kids [Review & Giveaway]

Chinese Kite Festival by Rich Lo 

My thoughts: 
This is a bright, beautiful book. Simply written with a short sentence for each illustration. If the goal is bilingual, this serves well for the young bilingual reader. If for a single language child, the text is simple to understand and the additional language can be a source of illustration for that language.

In Chinese culture, the kite festival is a looked forward to occasion. Other cultures enjoy kite flying, but the festival in China has different conations. 

I like that the publisher and author/illustrator have provided short back material that defines the Chinese significance of each animal, bird, or fish.

A lovely book for personal use or library additions 

About the book: Children can learn animal names in both English and Chinese with this beautifully illustrated book!
A tiger pounces across the sky.
A ladybug takes flight from a leaf.
Animal names and their significance in Chinese culture is beautifully explored for young readers in this stunning book. Simple bilingual text helps teach children animal names in both English and Chinese, and little ones will learn that butterflies are a sign of love, bees signify hard work, and more through the very simple and accessible backmatter. Paired with Rich Lo's vibrant digital watercolors, this simple and practical introduction to Chinese animal names and symbolism is irresistible.

All You Need by Howard Schwartz 

My thoughts: 
Simply written in sparse text, this sweet story has deep insights that will touch your heart, expand your concept of your reality, and provide opportunities for layers of insight.

All you need is the essentials. The life essentials. The day-to-day, live on the Earth essentials. And these essentials are beautiful and a blessing.

The book is not a religious or spiritual publication but will surely touch your heart with the blessings you receive on a daily basis to simply exist.

I highly recommend this book. While it presents a glimpse into Chinese life, it is multi-cultural in that it is a life book.


About the book: A little girl grows up to be an accomplished artist in this sumptuously illustrated book about the small things that lead to a rich and fulfilling life.
All You need
Is a planet to live on,
A sun to give you light,
And warmth…
In All You Need, poet Howard Schwartz’s graceful, deceptively simple text describes a handful of things anyone needs to live a rich and fulfilling life, made all the more potent by the illustrations of debut picture book artist Jasu Hu, who uses her talents to create a rich and powerful narrative describing her own journey, creative and otherwise, from a childhood in China to her arrival to study art in New York. Ultimately, she creates her own book, this book, a gift to her distant parents.

Luli and the Language of Tea by Andrea Wang

My thoughts: 
Many nationalities and cultures enjoy tea of various forms. Possibly none quite to the extent of China.

In Luli and the Language of Tea, the story opens in a multi-national classroom. Possibly kindergarten. Possibly in America or English speaking country. Luli enters and she can't speak English. But neither could the others. 

Luli proceeds, whilst sitting alone at a table, to place a tea set and thermos and begins to pour hot water from the thermos into the teapot in which she has placed tea leaves. 

Children quickly respond in their own language to Luli's call for "tea" in Chinese. They each respond in their own language.... Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, etc. (So dear reader, you get to "see" how "tea" would sound and look in each language!) 

They all joined together to enjoy their tea as they shared the warmth and taste of the familiar drink.

A sweet story invoking a warm feeling in this reader. I love the back material that gives some information on immigrants living in the US. I also like the pictures of the types of tea cups from different countries.  And, yes, I am a tea-drinker and love pretty tea cups.

About the book: Though they may speak different languages, kids from all over the world come together to enjoy the shared pastime of tea in this delicious book for young readers.

When five-year-old Luli joins her new English as a Second Language class, the playroom is quiet. Luli can’t speak English, neither can anyone else. That’s when she has a brilliant idea to host a tea party and bring them all together.

Luli removes her teapot, thermos, and teacups from her bag and calls out “Chá!” in her native Chinese. One by one, her classmates pipe up in recognition: in Russian, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili. Tea is a tasty language they all know well, and it gives them a chance to share and enjoy each other’s company. When all the tea is gone and it’s time for dessert, Luli gets to use her favorite English word, cookie! After that, the playroom isn’t so quiet.

Informed by her own experience as the child of Chinese immigrant parents, Andrea Wang makes the point that when you’re looking to communicate with people, you look for a common bond. The word for “tea” is similar in many languages, and tea becomes the unifying metaphor that brings a diverse group of children together. Additional material at the back of the book explores the rich and ancient history of tea drinking across cultures all around the world and contains maps, statistics, and fascinating details that will delight young readers. 
Prize: All 3 books featured
June 11 to July 9 @ 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. Prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Fatal Code (The Snap Agency) by Natalie Walters [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780800739799

My thoughts:
This story takes place in the Washington, DC, area and involves an alphabet soup of governmental agencies. Foremost for this story is the SNAP agency. A key figure of the SNAP agency is its technology agent, Kekoa, who is from Hawaii. Key also to the story is Elinor, whose grandfather was a role player in early nuclear projects in the US. Also key, is an old notebook of the grandfather's that Elinor possesses but of which she doesn't know its significance.

Global interest in Elinor and her current work and potential knowledge of key information - i.e. formulas or codes - pertinent to nuclear energy looms threateningly. Elinor encounters frightening and deadly danger before she learns that the project she is presenting as a developer has global interest and potential weaponization.

An exciting and interesting read.

About the book: In 1964, a group of scientists called the Los Alamos Five came close to finishing a nuclear energy project for the United States government when they were abruptly disbanded. Now the granddaughter of one of those five scientists, aerospace engineer Elinor Mitchell, discovers that she has highly sensitive information on the project in her possession--and a target on her back.
SNAP agent and former Navy cryptologist Kekoa Young is tasked with monitoring Elinor. This is both convenient since she's his neighbor in Washington, DC, and decidedly inconvenient because . . . well, he kind of likes her.

As Elinor follows the clues her grandfather left behind to a top-secret nuclear project, Kekoa has no choice but to step in. When Elinor learns he has been spying on her, she's crushed. But with danger closing in on all sides, she'll have to trust him to ensure her discoveries stay out of enemy hands.

Natalie Walters sucks you into the global race for space domination in this perfectly paced second installment of her SNAP Agency romantic suspense series.

Begins June 5
Ends July 15 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Revell to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. I also received a copy from LibraryThing which I am using as prize for this giveaway.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Middle Grade Mania National Geographic Kids books to laugh through [Giveaway USA]

"Middle grade mania" has arrived! This Spring, National Geographic Kids is debuting 3 new middle grade titles that will keep even the most reluctant of readers learning -- and laughing.  From A (acid!) to Z (Zeus!), the following "must-haves" are perfect for boredom busting and fending off the dreaded "Summer Slide."  

Weird But True Know It All: Rocks and Minerals (ages 8-12, paperback)

  • Did you know that Montana’s Grasshopper Glacier is filled with millions of frozen locusts that got caught in a storm more than 300 million years ago?
  • Or that Roman soldiers were said to get some of their pay in salt, and the word salary comes from "sal," the Roman word for salt?

In this latest single-subject Weird But True! book, readers will learn about everything from rocks in outer space to precious gems found in Earth's deepest oceans and everything in between, including rock-related careers, art, geography, history and consumer products (did you know the average car has 44 pounds of copper in it??). 

Just Joking Science (ages 8-12, paperback)

A perfect read for science whizzes (and whiz wannabes), kid comedians, and laughter-lovers of all ages, Just Joking Science features 300 science-themed jokes that is scientifically proven to leave kids laughing:). Jokes about all kinds of science stuff―kooky chemistry, funny physics, dinosaurs, space, and more―is combined with fast STEM-centric facts and 10 stories of real-life scientific experiments that are almost too wild to believe. Sized for back packs and camp care packages, Just Joking Science is an ideal party-starter with friends and family or a quiet-time entertainer. 

Zeus the Mighty: The Epic Escape from the Underworld by Crispin Boyer (ages 8-12, hardcover)

"Great characters, action, adventure, and lots of humor" - School Library Connection

"A treat for proto–Percy Jackson fans.” — Kirkus Reviews

Attention Greek mythology lovers! The highly anticipated next installment in the critically acclaimed fiction series Zeus the Mighty is here! Join Zeus the overconfident hamster, Athena the wise cat, Ares the treat-loving pug, Poseidon the proud pufferfish, Demeter the loyal grasshopper, and Hermes the daring chicken at the Mount Olympus Pet Center in Athens, GA on another laugh-out-loud adventure through Greek mythology. New to Zeus the Mighty?  All the books in this series stand alone and do not to be read in any particular order.  

About the book: The Olympians of Mount Olympus Pet Center have never faced a challenge quite like this. With Zeus the Mighty trapped in his palace by an all-seeing guard dog named Cerberus, it’s up to his gaggle of gods and goddesses to figure out how to rescue him. Once the Oracle speaks, the critters know they must venture deep into the belly of the vast Underworld to find the powerful relic that can free Zeus. But with so many new faces along the way, who can they trust? Will their quick thinking and teamwork be enough to save Zeus and themselves? After all, they found a way in, but can anyone really escape the Underworld?  Check out the Zeus the Mighty website for videos, printables, games, fun Greek facts and episodes of the award winning podcast "Greeking Out."

Begins June 4
Ends July 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate this posting. Giveaway prize books are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Prestel Junior publishing's new books for kid's are delightful forays into sweet loveliness [Review & Giveaway[

All Around Bustletown: Nighttime by Rotraut Susanne Berner (ISBN: 978-3791374901; Hardcover $12.25; Ages 2-5; 14 pages)

My thoughts: 
This newest "Bustletown" book again uses a set of detailed drawings that depict activities in the little town of Bustletown. Folks are just bustling about going hither and yon doing things of daily life. Previously, the Bustletown books each covered one of the four seasons. This one examines the town at night.

Detail is what these books are simply packed with. You follow a couple as they meander through the night about town. Watch the police as they patrol. Watch the town shut down for the day. A delightful experience as you try to figure out just what each character's story is.

I recommend this delightful and imaginative book.

About the book: Bustletown’s many fans will delight in a nocturnal return trip which finds the village’s beloved people, animals, and streetscapes as fun and busy as ever.

No matter what time of year, the inhabitants of Bustletown are busy working, walking, playing, eating, making music, exercising, and shopping. Now, even though it’s nighttime, the fun hasn’t stopped. Just as Berner’s previous explorations of the town have brilliantly evoked the sights and colors of the seasons, here she bathes the town in shimmering darkness that throws evening activities into fascinating relief. Seven colorful and incredibly detailed spreads take readers inside a multi-generational house, a farm, a railway station, a community center, a marketplace, a department store, and a park with a lake. Readers will return again and again to these pages to discover everything that takes place in Bustletown during the late hours: a burglar tries to break into the dental office, the bookshop features “books for a good night,” fireworks explode above the lake, and a slumber party is raging in the library. And as they search on each page for their favorite returning characters, they’ll create their own stories about all the things you can do after the sun sets. Other titles in the series are Spring, Summer, Winter, and Fall.

Big Hedgehog and Little Hedgehog Take An Evening Stroll by Britta Teckentrup (ISBN: 978-3791375199; Hardcover $14.95; Ages 3-7; 32 pages)

My thoughts: 
This is such a gentle, lovely book written in a verbal tone that is relaxing and calming. A perfect read before bedtime or naptime.

It invokes a loving father (or adult figure) leading little hedgehog along the way and through the night toward bed. But little hedgehog, like so many wee ones, wants to procrastinate and linger. It seems rather less of the need of a glass of water type of procrastination than the inquisitive nature of seeing new things and enjoying the beauty of the moment.

A treasure of a book and one I highly recommend.

About the book: One of the masters of children’s picture books returns with a simple and lovely story about taking one’s time in. Teckentrup’s spacious, textured collages, brushed with soft color and populated by a pair of charming hedgehogs, convey the beauty of a natural setting, and the comforting bond between caregiver and child.

It is evening and the big and little hedgehog are slowly making their way home. There is so much to see, and the little one wants to take it all in. Each step of the way the big hedgehog patiently asks, “What are we waiting for now?” The little hedgehog’s answers unfold in a series of lush landscapes as the two animals wait for the sun to set, for birds to fly by, for the moon and stars to appear, and for the world around them to prepare for sleep. At last, the little hedgehog is also asleep, carried home in the big hedgehog’s arms. Perfect for naptime, bedtime—or for any time that asks that we take a moment and slow down–Teckentrup’s signature combination of simple text and soothing illustration will appeal to readers young and old.

The Wild Garden by Cynthia Cliff (5/3/2022; ISBN: 978-3791375120; Hardcover $16.95; Ages 5-9; 32 pages) 

My thoughts: 
A highly detailed and beautifully illustrated picture book that tells the story of a community that has an enclosed garden the local residents tend and benefit from the bounty. 

Outside of the walled, cultivated garden is The Wild Garden. This is simply a small wooded area that is rife with an abundant variety of plants many of which the child's grandfather collects for eating pleasure. As they stroll the woods, they encounter many birds, insects, critters, and animals. A treasure trove of goodness.

The story captures the desire of the community to expand the garden and thus removing some of the wooded area. A plan which once the residents are shown the resulting destruction of the woods is cancelled.

A lovely book. I highly recommend.

About the book: The Wild Garden is filled with charmingly rustic illustrations of people, plants and animals. This story about community and biodiversity introduces children to the variety of ways things can grow and flourish in nature.
In the village of Mirren, a tidy community garden is carefully organized and tended by the townspeople. On the other side of the garden wall is a wild patch of land— a jumble of trees, a pond, and tall grassy places. While the garden is cared for in different ways throughout the seasons, Jilly and her grandfather like to visit the wild place, foraging for mushrooms, asparagus, and nuts, and watching the insects, birds and other animals. When the townspeople decide they need a bigger garden, they make plans to expand beyond the wall into the wild place. Worried about what will happen to their special piece of nature, Jilly and her grandfather come up with a plan, inviting the townspeople to discover a new kind of gardening. Their plan works and the wild place and the community garden merge harmoniously; the bees pollinate the crops, berry bushes take over a garden corner, pumpkins grow along the pond, and delicious herbs appear among the ferns. Cynthia Cliff’s lovingly detailed illustrations reveal the joys of every kind of garden, while her story offers endless opportunities to talk about healthy eating, nature, ecological gardening, and friendship.

Runs: June 1 - June 30 @ 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. Prize books are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Midnight's Budding Morrow (Regency Wallflowers #2) by Carolyn Miller from Kregel Publications [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780825446542
Kregel Publications

My thoughts: 
I found this story particularly moving. To consider the plight of women historically and their lack of worth, being unappreciated, taken advantage of at many levels, deceived and managed is hard as a women in today's free world to comprehend.

Snubbed at a society event and then later visiting at a friend's home of obvious wealth, our heroine finds herself "contracted" to become manager of the home for her friend's elderly father. Things run smoothly in the home under Sarah's management and yet it seems that some of the servants are at odds and try to undermine her.

Of course, the story needs a male lead and there is one. He is a bit of a wastrel and his father has a plan to reign him in. That plan includes marriage to Sarah.

The story only gets more interesting and conflicted. 

I found this to be a rewarding read and highly recommend it.

About the book: Can real love grow between a wallflower and an unrepentant rogue?

Sarah Drayton is eager to spend time with her best friend at her crumbling Northumberland castle estate. Matrimony is the last thing on her mind and the last thing she expects to be faced with on a holiday. Yet she finds herself being inveigled into a marriage of convenience with her friend's rakish brother.

When James Langley returns to his family's estate, he can't be bothered to pay attention to his responsibilities as the heir. War is raging and he wants only distraction, not serious tethers. But his roguish ways have backed him into a corner, and he has little choice but to obey his father's stunning decree: marry before returning to war, or else. Suddenly he finds himself wedded to a clever and capable woman he does not love.

Sarah craves love and a place to belong, neither of which James offered before returning to the battlefront. Now everyone around her thinks she married above her station, and they have no intention of rewarding her for such impertinence. It isn't until her husband returns from war seemingly changed that she begins to hope they may find real happiness. But can she trust that this rake has truly reformed?

When tragedy strikes, this pair must learn to trust God and his plans. Will they be destroyed . . . or will they discover that even in the darkest depths of night, the morning still holds hope?

Click here to read an excerpt.

About the Series: While most stories set in Regency England focus on the rich, the young, and the beautiful, award-winning author Carolyn Miller decided she wanted to give readers something different for a change. Her new Regency Wallflowers series follows the commoners, away from the hustle and bustle of 1810s London, out in the Lake District of England. She tells the stories of women who are slightly older and have few prospects for marriage, women who might be considered “wallflowers.”

Midnight’s Budding Morrow is the second book in the Regency Wallflowers series. The first book in the series is Dusk’s Darkest Shores.

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.

Miller’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).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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 winner by publisher or publicist. This is a Read With Audra blog tour.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Charming toddler's padded board book: "God Made Us Just Right" by Allia Zobel Noland [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780825446634
Kregel Children's Books

My thoughts: This is a charming and sweetly illustrated toddler's board book that addresses differences and how they don't matter because God Made Us Just Right. With lyrical rhymes the sweet questions from little ones and the replies by parent don't have a particular cadence but are nice and certainly express a conversational tone with some rhymes.

I just love this little book and there will be lots of look and see moments as the book is read and re-read to little ones who will easily learn to accept how God has created them and also to appreciate how God has created differences.

Highly recommend.

About the book: No need to compare--God has a reason for creating everyone just the way they are!

How come puppies get to bark, but kittens can't? Why do elephants have such long trunks when other animals don't risk tripping over their noses? What's the point of all these differences?

Through playful illustrations of animals and warmhearted words in rhyme, young children will see God as their loving creator. God Made Us Just Right helps them realize that God has a reason for creating us just the way we are.

Kids who are always asking, Why, Mom? and How come, Dad? will easily relate to the back-and-forth question-and-answer format. It's a book the whole family will enjoy.

FUN TIME: There are four free downloadable activity pages that accompany this book and that are fun for both children and parents to do together. Just go to author's website: and on the opening slider, you'll see how you can download these fun games and puzzles. 

May 18 to June 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Kregel Publishing or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Love in Disguise by Penny Zeller [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:
This is a totally clean, Christian read set in Montana in 1911. The automobile is the trend of the times and ranching is the mode of living. The protagonists in the story are Mrs. Wheeler, widowed and wealthy, and Mr. Evanson, wealthy young rancher. Their two families have a feuding history from when the deceased Mr. Wheeler accused rancher Evanson of cattle rustling shenanigans and other crooked endeavors.

Both of these wealthy individuals who did not know each other have to fend off frequent intrusions from potential spouses who simply want to connect with them for their wealth alone. They'll have none of that!

By chance, the two literally bump into each other in a town nearby and a friendship begins to grow. They both give "doctored" names so their wealthy identities are not forthcoming. The friendship grows and then their true identity is discovered.

Unwanted suiters pursue both Emilie and Thad and their friendship and budding romance with each other is in danger because of their covert doings.

A fun, clean, totally Christian read. One you won't be afraid to hand over to a young teen or your grandmama.

About the book: Who knew concealing one’s true identity could be so disastrous?

Who knew asserting one’s independence would cause such embarrassment? If only Almira “Emilie” Crawford Wheeler hadn’t insisted upon carrying her own stack of parcels, she wouldn’t have landed in an unladylike heap on the boardwalk. And what about the half-truth she told the handsome stranger who came to her aid? The stranger she never expected to see again?

Thad Alexander Evanson should have been paying closer attention to the boardwalk, rather than the newfangled automobile motoring down the street. Had he been more astute, a collision with the beautiful parcel-laden stranger might never have happened. And if it never had happened, he wouldn’t have told a partial-truth he figured wouldn’t matter.

Before long, Emilie and Thad are arranging to meet for a noonday meal each weekend in Missoula under the guise of different names. But what happens when their true identities are revealed? When half-truths are exposed? Could God have a plan even in the midst of a tangled web of lies? Read first few pages on Amazon - click here.

May 17 to June 7 @ 11:59 p.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only for Paperback or eBook 
Open WW addresses for eBook
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author to facilitate a review. Opinions expressed are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by the author. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, May 13, 2022

The crisis of infant baby formula in the United States (opinion)

 Much is being seen in the news here in the United States about the appalling  shortage of infant baby formula in stores across the US. This points to a many faceted problem and need for remediation. Just how we as a society reached this point and how this particular problem came into being is a reflection on our society as a whole and it is important to address.

First and foremost is the need to immediately provide for the little ones who need this product and to do so posthaste. If the product is really nonexistent at this point in time, find the ways and means to get those factories running 24/7 to provide it and ship it with armed, military escort if necessary to distribution points. No we don't want a military engaged, but we do need to feed those little ones.

Then we need to address the problem of how we reached this state of need in our country. We are not at war. We are not in major famine, drought, or plague distress. We are running pretty much as a normal day-to-day United States of America consumer nation. So what brought us to this state? Until we can solve that problem, we will continue to have issues of product supply from time to time. We've seen this with other items during the shut down caused by Covid. We will see it again.

But when it strikes at the very lives of babies who are our future and who are totally dependent on us, it should shake us from the very top of our heads to the soles of our feet with a mind jarring, body rattling fierceness! 

This is akin to cutting off live-giving water.

So the problem needs fixing. Immediately. And fixed so that it can not occur again.

Before today's baby formula existed, babies were breast fed. If not breast fed, they were given milk from cows and sometimes goats. These milk products were sterilized, had sugars added, diluted sometimes with boiled water. Babies survived. Lived. But we've grown beyond using these products because powdered, manufactured baby formula is so much better. (Note: No formula, no matter how well made, can supersede the nutritional value of breastfeeding.)

But it is only better if you can get it. 

I realize that all babies do not thrive on the baby formulas of times past, but they do live. Babies with no source of food do not live. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

May Celebration of Dinosaurs - DINOMAYNIA #GIVEAWAY - National Geographic Kids' dinosaurs books educate & entertain [6-Book Giveaway]

National Geographic Kids has an amazing DinoMAYnia website packed full of games, video shorts, facts, and even a dinosaur personality quiz!

In honor of International Dinosaur Day on May 17th, National Geographic Kids is celebrating DinoMAYnia and has compiled a terrific line up of books for dino-maniacs of all ages. 

Now we're celebrating this fun "DinoMAYnia" month by parterning with National Geographic Kids to offer a super 6-pack of Dino books for the kiddies. Read on to see just what's in the pack of books and how you can enter-2-win!

Little Kids First Board Book; Dinosaurs (ages baby - 3, hard cover, $7.99)

The prehistoric world comes alive with dinosaurs small, big, giant, and gigantic in this colorful book for the very youngest dinosaur lovers! Each spread in this sturdy book features a different dinosaur, along with super simple facts and lively, age-appropriate language to keep babies and toddlers--and their grown-ups--fascinated by every colorful page. Not only will readers learn about a variety of dinosaurs--and how to say their names, they can also find recurring shapes and patterns in the art, while adults can keep their eyes open for occasional funny commentary from the animals. Sidebar text offers additional learning for older siblings or those ready for more complex information.  The Little Kids First Board Books mirror the beloved First Big Books while taking a fresh new approach to excite a baby's sense of wonder and make learning about nature and science fun.

Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs (hardcover, ages 4-8, 128 pages, $14.95)

A #1 best seller on Amazon! The prehistoric world comes alive with dinosaurs small, big, giant, and gigantic, with stunning illustrations. Bursting with fun facts and age-appropriate information, each spread features a different dinosaur, along with simple text in big type that is perfect for little kids. Young dino fans will love the interactivity included in every chapter, and parents will appreciate tips to help carry readers' experience beyond the page. 

So Cool! Dinos (hardcover, ages 3-5, $6.99)

Those sharp, pointy teeth! Those terrifying claws! Those long necks and pointy spines! Let’s face it ... dinosaurs are SO COOL! Blending dinosaur art with silly quips and Informational fact boxes about when dinosaurs lived on Earth, stats about dinos, dinosaur feathers, and more, this is the perfect little reader to get kids’ brains buzzing and keep them laughing while learning.

National Geographic Readers: T.Rex (ages 4-6, paperback, $4.99)

Giant teeth! Crushing bite! Slicing claws! And … feathers? Scientists have unearthed new knowledge about the king of the dinosaurs, and now you can, too. Travel back in time to the Mesozoic forests to meet the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex. Learn how their bodies were perfectly adapted for hunting, how T. rex parents guarded their nests, and just how much meat they could guzzle down in a single bite. Then explore some of the fascinating fossils―including Sue and Scotty―that have helped scientists make important discoveries (for example, T. rex may not have roared at all!). National Geographic Readers’ combination of expert-vetted text, brilliant images, and a fun approach to reading have proved to be a winning formula with kids, parents, and educators. This level 1 text provides accessible information for kids just beginning to read on their own, perfect to encourage the scientists and explorers of tomorrow!

Ultimate Dinopedia, 2nd ED (hardcover, ages 7-10, 296 pages, $24.99) 

Big, beautiful and gift-worthy! The new edition of the popular Nat Geo Kids Dinopedia includes all the latest species and is the most complete, up-to-date dinosaur reference available. Find favorites, like the fierce T-rex and the gentle Brontosaurus, plus audacious new finds, like the Anzu, Kosmoceratops, and Yi. Every dino profile is colorfully illustrated and features descriptions of when they roamed the Earth, how they lived, what they ate, and more. There are more than 600 dinos featured in all, including 10 profiles of recently discovered dinosaurs and new entries in the Dino Dictionary. Reports from paleontologists present the latest news and insights from the field.

Weird But True! Dinosaurs (paperback, ages 8-12, 208 pages, $8.99)

300 dino-mite facts to sink your teeth into! Perfectly sized for back seat boredom busting, this new addition to the wildly popular WBT series is taking on the jaws and claws that ruled the Mesozoic world.  Calling all dino dynamos!  Did you know that the T. rex had vision 13 times better than the average human's? Or that people collect fossilized dino poop? And get this: There's a dinosaur named after Hogwarts--Harry Potter's wizarding school! Get ready to meet dinosaurs with horns and feathers, razor-sharp claws and gigantic teeth. You'll encounter the places they lived, the bizarre art they inspired, and the amazing paleontologists who discovered them.

One-stop shopping:

6 National Geographic Kids Dinosaurs Books
Ends June 3 @ 11:59 p.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of these 6 books. Any opinions expressed are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's books are provided and shipped directly to the winner by the publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, May 9, 2022

My Big Book of Outdoors by Tim Hopgood [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

My thoughts: Upon opening this big book of delightful imagery, I see the phrase.... "For everyone who stayed indoors in 2020."

How appropriate to place a beautiful celebration of the seasons just as the Covid pandemic seems to be coming to an end. That's not to say that our enemy "The Covid" is absolutely gone, it simply means we are moving on into a new season of dealing with this virus.

Now about this children's book. 

Firstly, it is divided into the four seasons. We're currently winding down on Spring and the book opens with the season of Spring. 

Secondly, I am amazed at the amount of information and wonderful illustrations that the author/illustrator provides in this book. Seeds, bulbs, ants, birds, eggs, rain. How it all is there to interact and perform. How each season brings new change to our world.

The text is easy going and sure to make a delicate impact on the senses as well as the learned skills and information gleaned. There are a few fun activities in which the child may engage as well as providing an opportunity to learn. 

I highly recommend this book for families with children up to about age 9 or 10. Sure to please!

About the book: Introduce little ones to the great outdoors with this beautifully illustrated treasury exploring the wonders of nature in four glorious seasons.

From vibrant springtime flowers to sweet fruits on summer trees, from the falling of autumn leaves to snowdrops in winter, this ode to the four seasons introduces young readers to the world of nature outside their door. During the chilly months, they can discover why birds fly south in winter, search for animal footprints in the snow, or learn to make the perfect paper snowflake. As the sun grows stronger, they're invited to weave a daisy chain, find a feather, or try their hand at growing a sunflower. Full of activities, poetry, fun facts to explore, and amazing things to see and do outside, this brightly illustrated book makes a delightful gift for all seasons.

Begins May 9
Ends June 4 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & Canada addresses only
No P.O. Boxes. Canadian winners must provide phone number.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, May 6, 2022

"I'm A Neutrino: Tiny Particles In a Big Universe" & "This Is a School" & "The Stardust That Made Us" [STEM] (Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

I'm a Neutrino: Tiny Particles in a Big Universe by Dr. Eve M. Vavagiakis & illustrated by Ilze Lemesis

My thoughts:
 Curious as to what a neutrino is, I Googled for a definition. Below is a screenshot of the online definition which tends to make this grandmother ponder why this is the subject matter for a kid's picturebook. But I do recognize the ability of young minds to grasp more than previously thought. As a MIT Kid's Press publication the high IQ and scientific density of such a picture book is understandable.

These super tiny particles are depicted as quirky little "critters" populating the world around us and beyond to the furthest galaxy. This is a little understood particle that physicists are learning more about as time goes along. 

So what's the purpose in introducing such material to a "picture book audience"? I'm thinking that simple introduction of terminology in an environment children understand begins to lay groundwork for future educational experiences. And while not a totally "fun" it can conceivably be enjoyed by those for whom it is intended. The back matter provided is interesting for those wishing to further pursue some information on neutrinos.

About the book: An accessible and visually arresting picture book about one of the universe's most mysterious particles for the youngest scientific minds.

Before you finish reading this sentence, trillions upon trillions of neutrinos will have passed through your body. Not sure what a neutrino is? Get an up-close-and-personal introduction in this dazzling picture book from MIT Kids Press, told in lilting rhyme from the neutrino’s point of view and filled with mind-bending, full-bleed illustrations that swirl and splash the cosmos to life. Some of the smallest bits of matter known to exist—and they exist everywhere—neutrinos are inspiring cutting-edge and Nobel Prize–winning research. Here, playful text and watercolor illustrations blended with photographs distill the concept of these mysterious particles down to its essence. “Know Your Neutrinos” end notes provide context for each spread, amplifying the science and making complex astrophysics and physics concepts approachable. This indispensable STEM title urges children to dream of contributing their own discoveries.

This Is a School by John Schu & illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison 

My thoughts:
 What a delightful picture book that will ease the young child into his or her school experience. I like also that the sense of "community" is addressed several times through the book.

Cute illustrations are inclusive of a variety of ethnicity and show all working well together and happily sharing experiences.

A delightful book.

About the book: A moving celebration of school and all it may signify: work and play, creativity and trust, and a supportive community that extends beyond walls.

A school isn’t just a building; it is all the people who work and learn together. It is a place for discovery and asking questions. A place for sharing, for helping, and for community. It is a place of hope and healing, even when that community can’t be together in the same room. John Schu, a librarian and former ambassador of school libraries for Scholastic, crafts a loving letter to schools and the people that make up the communities within in a picture book debut beautifully illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison.

The Stardust That Made Us: A Visual Exploration of Chemistry, Atoms, Elements, and the Universe by Colin Stuart & illustrated by Ximo Abadía 

My thoughts:
 An oversized, informational book for children that exceeds the usual educational load for young minds. Typically, the age for learning and understanding periodic tables and other "elements" of the scientific world is relegated to upper middle grades or high school. Who knew that normal, book-lovers in the elementary sphere would be interested or even adept at absorbing such material?

Yet, here it is - The Stardust That Made Us: A Visual Exploration of Chemistry, Atoms, Elements, and the Universe.  

I found it to be pretty heavy reading for the specified age group (and, yes, even for this grandmother). Though the presentation and organization is interesting, this is not a "quick read" picture book loaded with bright and engaging images. This is probably best used in school and classroom libraries and in homes where parental guidance can aid in understanding and absorbing the information. Designed for ages 8 to 12 and grades 3 to 7.

About the book: Designed to present chemistry in a new, approachable way, this book explores the history and application of chemistry in the natural world. With incredible artwork from Ximo Abadía , the reader can visualize the 118 known elements and explore the chemical makeup of the universe. With engaging, easy-to-understand text by acclaimed science writer Colin Stuart, this title will truly captivate and inspire.

2 winners - each 1 set of books
Begins May 6
Ends June 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & Canada addresses
No P.O. Boxes & Canadians must provide phone number
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winners by Candlewick and/or its representatives. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.