Thursday, March 16, 2023

Cloud Babies by Eoin Colfer & illustrated by Chris Judge [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

My thoughts: 
This is an interesting and sweet children's book. My husband was really good at seeing animals in the clouds but not I. In Cloud Babies: Sometimes All We Need to Do Is Look Up a very young child an her father see animals - or rather Cloud Babies - when they are outside strolling along and looking up. This continues as the child grows.

One day the child becomes sick, sicker than ever before and has to go stay for an extended period in the hospital. While there, she and the other children learn to look up and see cloud babies.

Once she is well and leaves the hospital, she goes to school and makes new friends. These friends don't see or appreciate the experience of visualizing cloud babies. She becomes disgruntled, angry, sad, at a loss. The story continues to its joyful conclusion where her hospital friends and her school friends meet at the hospital, share books, and continue experiencing the joy of cloud babies.

A nice story that shares the different worlds of a children's hospital and the child's regular school.

About the book: Six-year-old Erin’s favorite game is spotting animals in the clouds with her mom and dad—everything from fluffy foxes and polar bears to little rabbits. Even when Erin falls very ill and has to spend a long time in the hospital, she still manages to find joy in  spying “cloud babies” through the window with her new hospital friends. When the doctor tells Erin she can go home, she is so excited! But being back at school is not at all what she expected—so much has changed, and Erin must reconcile the safe realm she’s just left with a world outside that has become unfamiliar. With Mom and Dad’s love and wisdom, however, and with the help of her teacher and friends, Erin comes to see that by sharing her experience she can find happiness again in just being herself. Sensitively told and vibrantly brought to life, Cloud Babies brings recognition and comfort to children facing illness or hardship, as well as guidance to those who wish to offer support but may not know where to start.

Eoin Colfer, New York Times best-selling author of the Artemis Fowl series, pens a warm, empathy-building story based on illustrator Chris Judge’s family’s experience with childhood illness.
Begins March 16
Ends April 12 @ 12:1 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA
Canadian winners must provide phone number
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. Winner's prize is provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or publicist.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Dreams of the Heart (Wyoming Sunrise #2) by Penny Zeller [Giveaway - USA paper or ebook]

In Dreams of the Heart, we get to meet John Mark ten years later as the Deputy Sheriff of Poplar Springs, a town not too far from Willow Falls. We will also meet new female lead character, Hannah. Caleb, Annie, Charlotte, Reverend Solomon, and Lydie will all make guest appearances and we will see how they're doing after all these years. 

Sometimes the hardest battles take place in the heart.

Poverty and abuse at the hands of her drunkard father leaves Hannah Bane trapped and alone. Without hope, she prays for a miracle just on the off-chance God will hear her. Will the handsome new deputy, who seems to be watching her every move, be Hannah’s one chance to escape the only life she’s ever known?

For as long as he can remember, John Mark Eliason has wanted to be a deputy sheriff. When a job opens in the nearby town of Poplar Springs, he eagerly accepts, but finds his greatest mission won’t be tracking down criminals and bringing justice to the ruthless Wyoming town, but saving a beautiful young woman he barely knows.

Will an unexpected answer to a difficult situation show how love can endure—and even thrive—in an unconventional situation? Or will fear and uncertainty keep two hesitant hearts apart?

A handsome deputy sheriff.

A woman in search of freedom.

An unconventional situation.

In the sequel to Forgotten Memories, author Penny Zeller weaves a tender tale of faith, romance, and humor in a memorable story that reminds us God hears every prayer and has a plan for every life.

Watch for Chat With Vera's review soon!
March 16 - April 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped or sent to directly to the winner. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Music, a rain forest, and moving biographic non-fiction picture books inspire young readers ages 5 to 9 [Spotlight & Giveaway]

Introducing young children to non-fiction picture books can open opportunities of discovery into the makings of our World. Enjoyment, educational, entertaining, evocative books for inquiring and discovering minds.

Symphony for a Broken Orchestra: How Philadelphia Collected Sounds to Save Musicby Amy Ignatow & illustrated by Gwen Millward | Ages 6-9

What happens when musical instruments can’t make the sounds we expect them to make? Is music still possible? An uplifting picture book based on a true story.

The schools of Philadelphia were filling up with broken violins, drums, pianos, and more, making it difficult for students to learn to play. This sparked an idea for a symphony, played entirely with the broken instruments, that would raise funds to repair the instruments themselves. Musicians young and old volunteered, and their captivating performance showed that even something broken can sing—and that great music is always possible with a bit of inventiveness and improvisation. Based on real events, this inspiring story introduces young readers to a range of instruments as it celebrates a community coming together to make a joyful, meaningful noise. More information about the nonprofit organization Broken Orchestra can be found in the back matter, including a link to an audio recording of the symphony performance.

A Walk Through the Rain Forest by Martin Jenkins & Vicky White illustrator | Ages 6-9

The award-winning team behind Can We Save the Tiger? and Ape invites young readers to explore the breathtaking biodiversity of a Malaysian tropical rain forest.

Conservation biologist Martin Jenkins and acclaimed fine artist Vicky White expertly guide readers into the complex ecosystem of Malaysia’s Taman Negara. Conversational prose and photorealistic black-and-white artwork—punctuated by four jaw-dropping full-color spreads—evoke the whir of cicadas and the low call of a pheasant. Pages fill with ants and elephants, leopards and hornbills, gibbons and bats, as animals spread and fertilize seeds to help maintain a magnificent old-growth forest. Every living thing in the rain forest is interconnected, and a dazzling full-color index guide at the end of the book challenges readers to circle back and marvel at animals they may have missed in the dense foliage. Meticulously researched and visually arresting, this creative tour de force is a young conservationist’s dream: the ecotour of a lifetime.

A Life of Service: The Story of Senator Tammy Duckworth by Christina Soontornvatby Christina Soontornvat & illustrated by Dow Phumiruk | Ages 5-9

Thai American creators portray the inspirational and barrier-breaking life of Senator Tammy Duckworth in a picture-book tribute to an extraordinary woman.

Given Tammy Duckworth’s personal heroism as an Army veteran, her stunning recovery from injuries sustained in the line of duty, and her subsequent career as an influential US senator, it’s easy to see why Joe Biden earmarked her as a possible running mate during his Democratic presidential campaign. Senator Duckworth has logged a long list of firsts during her tenure as the first Thai American member of Congress, including being the first woman with a disability to serve in the House and Senate. But it is her tireless determination to keep going against staggering odds that will rivet readers of all ages. Christina Soontornvat’s narrative biography of this groundbreaking military veteran and rising political star will inspire readers to dream and achieve. Evoking Senator Duckworth’s spirited nature with sensitivity and joy, this dramatic account of a life lived in the service of others includes a time line and suggestions for further reading.

1 Winner All 3 Books
March 14 to April 10 @ 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 of the books to spotlight. Winner's book prizes are provided and sent directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, March 10, 2023

My Baba’s Garden by Jordan Scott & illustrated by Sydney Smith


My thoughts:  A gentle story of multi-generational love and caring. The Baba (grandmother) whose early life was one of deprivation and lack of food, lives simply growing and cooking her own food and does so in abundance. She helps care for her grandson. Through her actions she demonstrates her way of life and how she tends her garden and cooks the food she grows. She even captures earthworms on rainy days and places them in her garden. This demonstrates a care for the little things that make a garden grow.

As she ages and needs to be removed from her own home, she goes to live with her family. Her grandson returns much of the love and tenderness to her that she has previously bestowed on him.

A sweet tender story that is lovely and beautifully told.

About the book: The special relationship between a child and his grandmother is depicted in this sumptuous book by an award-winning team.

Inspired by memories of his childhood, Jordan Scott's My Baba's Garden explores the sights, sounds, and smells experienced by a child spending time with their beloved grandmother (Baba), with special attention to the time they spent helping her tend her garden, searching for worms to keep it healthy. He visits her every day and finds her hidden in the steam of boiling potatoes, a hand holding a beet, a leg opening a cupboard, an elbow closing the fridge, humming like a night full of bugs when she cooks.

Poet Jordan Scott and illustrator Sydney Smith's previous collaboration, I Talk Like a River, which received a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award expored a cherished memory shared between a father and son. In their new book, they turn that same wistful appreciation to the bond between a boy and his grandmother. Sydney Smith's illustrations capture the sensational impressions of a child's memory with iconic effect.

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

Monday, March 6, 2023

"One Tiny Treefrog" and "Puffin" picture books delightfully entertain & education young children [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

One Tiny Treefrog: A Countdown to Survival by Tony Piedra and Mackenzie Joy | Ages 4-8

My thoughts: 
What first appears to be a simple counting one-to-ten picturebook soon becomes evident that there is much more being told for the detailed reader.
  • Begins with 10 eggs and ends with one lone treefrog
  • Demonstrates the various perils awaiting the tadpoles 
  • Presents the richness of plant and critter life in the tropical Costa Rican rain forest
  • Introduces reader to insect's and critter's real names with tucked away illustrations on two-page spreads
  • Shows a tiny (since it is in the distance) man made tower atop a mountain
Back pages give lots of detailed information for the growing learner to expand his knowledge. A good addition to home libraries for children as well as school and public libraries. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the book: The red-eyed treefrog of the Costa Rican rain forest stars in this bold and visually arresting countdown book, which is both a captivating read-aloud and a resource.

Deep in the tropical forest of Costa Rica, ten sticky frog eggs cling to a leaf. Only nine eggs hatch. Only eight tadpoles wind up in the water below. What will it take to survive the countdown to adulthood and begin the cycle again? This beautifully designed, color-drenched introduction to frog metamorphosis peeks at this animal's habitats and predators as it illustrates competition and natural selection. Cocreators Mackenzie Joy and Tony Piedra have crafted a dazzling spin on the life of one of nature's darlings, the red-eyed treefrog. Back matter invites budding naturalists to discover even more treefrog facts, revisit the pages to spot other Costa Rican species, and check out a bibliography.

Puffin by Martin Jenkins | Ages 5-7

My thoughts: 
What a delightful book for young children to learn about the little Puffin sea bird. This little bird settles on the shores of the North Atlantic as far south as Maine. But much of their life is at sea. I learned that they nest but burrowing and making nests. They lay one egg per year. Their beak changes color with the season. And so much more.

The illustrations are delightful. Straightforward but charming. Stark but soft. Vivid yet sofly warm. 

A couple of back pages of information about Puffins are provided for additional learning.  I think this will be a delight for many readings. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the book: Take a first look at this appealing northern bird—and follow one diligent pair as they nurture their new chick.

Everyone recognizes the puffin, with its black and white feathers and brightly colored bill. But how does the puffin live? What happens down in its burrow? And how do the male and female share the task of feeding and caring for their young? Discover the intriguing world of this charming bird in a collaboration that pairs Martin Jenkins’s engaging, informative text with the warm energy of Jenni Desmond’s illustrations. Filled with interesting facts, this delightful introduction to the puffin offers young ornithologists more details in the back matter.
Begins March 6
Ends March 28 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA/CANADA 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. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Not-So-Common Cent$ by Sarah Wassner Flynn published by National Geographic Kids (Blog Tour & Giveaway].

Welcome to the
Not-So-Common Cents
Blog Tour & Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of Not-So-Common Cents by Sarah Wassner Flynn, featuring a special forward by financial educator Alvin Hall, blogs across the web are hosting exclusive excerpts from this ultimate book of all things money, as well as 5 chances to win a copy!


Bitcoins and Beyond: The Dish on Digital Money

BIT BY BIT Before there was email, there was snail mail. And before there was cryptocurrency, there was conventional currency—money that is backed by a government (aka fiat currency). For decades, fiat currency has been the accepted form of payments and exchanges of money within a country. 

VIRTUAL CURRENCY Enter cryptocurrency. Around 2009, something called Bitcoin came onto the scene, which exists only in a virtual world. So, instead of having actual coins and bills you can see and feel and watch pile up in a piggy bank, you have a stash of digital dollars tucked away on the internet. Today, Bitcoin is the most recognizable form of cryptocurrency, but there are more than a thousand other kinds out there. 
FUN FACT!: In September 2018, the word “bitcoin” was added to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. 

MONEY MYSTERY The story goes that Bitcoin was invented by a Japanese man named Satoshi Nakamoto. The thing is, no one knows who Nakamoto actually is. After introducing Bitcoin to the world by writing a nine-page paper describing a plan for this new form of currency, Nakamoto remained anonymous. While several people have come forward falsely claiming to be him (and one man even filed a lawsuit to prove that he is Bitcoin’s creator), Nakamoto’s identity may always remain a mystery. 

HOW CRYPTOCURRENCY WORKS So how does it work? To start, all transactions happen online. And they are not regulated by the government, like traditional currency is. People exchange cryptocurrency among each other without going through a bank. If you pay for something with cryptocurrency, your wallet ID (a series of numbers and letters unique to each user) appears in a public log, known as a blockchain. Each digital coin has its own blockchain, and they’re different from one another. 

VARIED VALUE The biggest difference between cryptocurrency and regular money? Its value! Cryptocurrency has no fixed worth. Its cost goes up and down, like gas prices. Recently, the price of one bitcoin has gone from around $29,000 to $41,000 and back down again. (But you can buy pieces of one bitcoin, known as satoshis, for a lot less.) So what’s up with the crazy fluctuation of the cost of cryptocurrency? It’s all about supply and demand. The more people want cryptocurrency, the more it’ll cost. And again, unlike regular currency, its value is not regulated or controlled by a government. 

CREATING CRYPTOCURRENCY So how is cryptocurrency created and what is it? All cryptocurrency is “mined.” Unlike gold miners who used pickaxes and elbow grease to pluck shiny nuggets from the soil, cryptocurrency miners on computers compete to solve complicated math calculations and puzzles. Once a problem is solved, a new “block” is added to the chain and more cryptocurrency is created. The miner is then rewarded with cryptocoins, which they can then keep or sell. 

BUY AND STORE To get cryptocurrency, people go online and buy it from websites called exchanges. From there, it’s stored in a digital wallet, which is a password-protected space on a phone, in the cloud, on a computer, or on a flash drive. 

THE DARK SIDE OF CRYPTOCURRENCY Cryptocurrency only exists online, so it’s an easy target for hackers looking to make quick money. In fact, reports of cryptocurrency crimes—which include everything from straight-up stealing to scams—have increased 312 percent a year on average since 2016. If crypto isn’t stored in a supersecure place online, hackers can gain access to crypto wallets or breach entire cryptocurrency exchanges and collect millions. Even scarier? Because cryptocurrency can be exchanged anonymously and privately, it can be used as a way to fund terrorist organizations or other criminal activities, posing a serious security risk. As a result, governments around the world are working hard to target and stop crypto criminals. 

THE FUTURE OF CRYPTOCURRENCY Because cryptocurrency isn’t something you can hold in your hand (or put into an actual wallet) and because it’s not regulated by a government, it has its share of skeptics, including some leading economists and financial experts. So while the jury is still out on whether cryptocurrency will be the wave of the future, currently all crypto-currencies combined account for less than about 0.7 percent of all the world’s money. 

IS BITCOIN BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT? In a word, yes. Worldwide, Bitcoin mining operations use more energy than the entire nation of Sweden, according to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index. And a single Bitcoin transaction uses the same amount of power as the average American household consumes in a month. While these stats are staggering, efforts are underway to reduce the consumption and carbon emissions from crypto mining, an important move in curbing climate change.

Buy | Buy on | Add to GoodReads

Cha-ching! Learn everything adults wish they knew about money when they were kids―and more―including how to make it, save it, and multiply it!

While money certainly isn’t everything, one fact is true: No matter where you live in the world, money is a basic necessity. From the clothes on your back to the food on your plate, chances are, money is somehow involved in almost all of your day-to-day activities.

In this book you’ll discover exactly what money is, along with:

·How society went from bartering to using bucks · Basics of saving (including some brilliant hacks), investing, and interest · What “credit” really means · Inventive ways to get your ideas flowing and money growing · What the stock market is, and how money moves around the world today · Ins and outs of cryptocurrency and other “new” money · The importance of giving back―one of the best things a fiscally responsible global citizen can do · Why being smart with money = a big step toward independence

So jump in, and find out the mind-blowing secrets and stats about money!


About the Author: SARAH WASSNER FLYNN is a longtime writer for National Geographic Kids. She loves writing, running, and triathlons. When she's not writing about races, she's usually training or competing in one. She also writes nonfiction books and articles for kids and teens, like National Geographic Kids National Park Guide U.S.A.This Book Stinks!Weird But True Know-It-All Greek Mythology, and Girls' Life Guide to Being the Most Amazing YouWebsite | Instagram

About the Foreword Writer: ALVIN HALL is an internationally recognized, award-winning financial educator, author, and television and radio host. He’s the author of the best-selling financial advice books You and Your MoneyYour Money or Your LifeWhat Not to SpendGetting Started in Mutual Funds, and his 2008 children’s book Show Me the Money. In 2006, he was awarded the Wincott Award for business journalism for his 2006 documentary Jay-Z: From Brooklyn to the Boardroom about the life of rapper Jay-Z. In addition, he was the longtime host of the award-winning BBC radio finance program Your Money or Your LifeWebsite | Facebook | Twitter


  • One (1) winner will receive a copy of Not-So-Common Cents
  • US/Can only
  • Ends 3/11 at 11:59 pm ET
  • Enter via the Rafflecopter below
  • Visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Blog Tour Schedule:

February 27th Log Cabin Library

February 28th Eye-Rolling Demigod’s Book Blog

March 1st Crafty Moms Share

March 2nd - Geo Librarian

March 3rd Chat With Vera

 DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of the book. Text and giveaway are provided by publicist. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher. Chat With Vera  is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

God's Love in a Nutshell by Hilary Robinson & illustrated by Mandy Stanley [Review & Giveaway]

If you've never checked out Kregel Publishing's children's book selection, I highly recommend you to do so. 

Buy  it on
ISBN: 9780825448027
$14.99 Hardback

My thoughts:  The message or lesson in this adorable children's book is God's everpresent and enduring love. Quite a vast subject for the little ones, but beautifully brought to understanding literally in a nutshell.

As the little squirrel contemplates a way to keep God's love with him as he goes about his day and night activities, he wants a way to hold or contain it.

God's love contained? Held? Put in a nutshell? 

Preposterous. Yet! Older, wiser, larger squirrel leads little squirrel to an understanding that God's love can't be kept or contianed in a little nutshell but that it is everywhere and with you always. 

"Nothing can separate us from God's love." --Romans 8:38 (NLT)

About the book: Charming story reassuring kids that God loves them always. Chitter the squirrel is worried. If God's love is too big to fit in a nutshell, a backpack, or even a wheelbarrow, how can it be nearby at all times? 

Chatter has the reassuring answer: God's love may be too big to be contained by things, but it's just the right size to fit in our hearts!

With adorable illustrations from Mandy Stanley and warm words from Hilary Robinson, God's Love in a Nutshell is the perfect book to help children understand that God's love is never out of reach and will never run out, no matter what. It’s a sweet book for bedtime, or for kids to pull off the shelf when they need a little comfort anytime.

Begins March 2
Ends March 30 @ 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 book is provided and mailed directly to the winner by Kregel Publishing or their publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

The Time-Saving Mom: How to Juggle a Lot, Enjoy Your Life, and Accomplish What Matters Most by Crystal Paine [Book spotlight & Giveaway]

About the book: 
Crystal Paine's The Time-Saving Mom offers a four-step system to organize and simplify your life so you can maximize your time and invest in what matters most. Learn to enjoy family life more with time-saving hacks and routines, and find spiritual and familial fulfillment even on your busiest days. Make time for God and family today! 

From Crystal herself........
The Time-Saving Mom is basically a download of my best tricks & strategies for doing what you need to do & want to do from a place of rest and joy! In this book, share:

➡️How simplicity is a superpower -- & very practical ways to eliminate decision fatigue in your life
➡️My 6x2 Priority System — it will radically transform the way you approach each day & eliminate so much guilt.
➡️An incredibly easy & foolproof habit-tracking system that breaks down big-picture ideas & ambitions into bite-sized baby steps.
➡️How my hybrid planning system works & how to adapt it for your personality/situation.
➡️All the details on making & sticking with a Time-Blocked To Do List & how it will free you up to get so much more done.
➡️The #1 time-saving tip that starts my day off from a posture of peace -- no matter how much needs to be done!
The Time-Saving Mom was written in the middle of a lot of unexpected extra things in our lives. Right after I committed to writing it, we said yes to adopting David (whom we'd been fostering for a number of months) AND we found out -- much to our shock! -- that I was expecting our fifth biological child.

Buy it on Amazon - click here
Listen or read some of book on Amazon - Click here

Begins February 26
Ends March 26 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: This is a complimentary post at no cost to the author. I have not receive  book or any other compensation. Winner's prize book is provided and mailed directly to the winner by author, publisher, or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

The Maid of Ballymacool by Jennifer Deibel

My thoughts: Set in pre-WWII Ireland on an old estate converted to a boarding school for girls, the story of a lovely young lady who serves as lowest of the lowest as a servant in the school. Laboring from predawn to late at night, young Brianna is the brunt of hateful overlording by other servants and especially the head mistress of Ballymacool.

It is bewildering to her that she is the recipient of such misuse, but she accepts it as her status and knows no other life. Having no parents or other family to whom she can appeal, she does as she is told.

One of the boarders is a mischievous girl from a local, influential family. They send her grown, male cousin to Ballymacool to stay for awhile to try and get to the root of the girl's troubles. While there, he meets young servant, Brianna, and is appalled at her treatment. To further compound the girl's distress, she is injured during a storm and must heal before reassuming her responsibilities.

The story goes forth from there and is a true rags to riches story. I enjoyed reading this book and found it interesting in its portrayal of the abuse of the servant class in Ireland in the 1930s. The romance is sweet. The mystery surrounding Brianna and Ballymacool interesting.

About the book: Brianna Kelly was abandoned at Ballymacool House and Boarding School as an infant. She has worked there since she was a wee girl and will likely die there. Despite a sense that she was made for something more, Brianna feels powerless to change her situation, so she consoles herself by exploring the Ballymacool grounds, looking for hidden treasures to add to the secret trove beneath the floorboards of her room.

When Michael Wray, the son of local gentry, is sent to Ballymacool to deal with his unruly cousin, he finds himself drawn to Brianna, immediately and inescapably. There is something about her that feels so . . . familiar. When Brianna finds a piece of silver in the woods, she commits to learning its origins, with the help of Michael. What they discover may change everything.

Fan favorite Jennifer Deibel invites you back to the Emerald Isle in the 1930s for this fresh take on the Cinderella story, complete with a tantalizing mystery, a budding romance, and a chance at redemption.

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

Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Adventures of the Flash Gang: The Exploding Experiment by M.M. Downing & S.J. Waugh [Book spotlight & giveaway]

The first in a trilogy in which a street orphan and his ragtag crew valiantly foil a pro-Nazi plot in 1935 Pittsburgh

ISBN: 9781646033225

(Raleigh, NC) Delightfully Dickensian in spirit, The Adventures of the Flash Gang: The Exploding Experiment packs clever twists and ever-rising stakes into a perfectly-paced middle-grade novel. The Adventures of the Flash Gang is a bright flare of fun, a throwback gangster caper with irresistible kid sleuths, and loads of page-turning action.

About the Book:
That brief, blinding dazzle? The blue smudge and lingering stink? The Flash Gang has struck again! They are the most notorious thieves in Pittsburgh, food-stealing crooks the police and newspapers say are highly trained and very dangerous. But eleven-year-old Lewis Carter isn’t a thief; he’s just homeless and hungry. The flash is a recipe he invented from bits of his missing father’s scientific research. He uses it to pinch his dinners. It’s been going pretty well until now…Now his recipe is stolen, and he is in the clutches of nasty people. Enter tutu-wearing, starry-eyed, and all-around extraordinary (she will tell you) Pearl Alice Clavell. She is on a mission to uncover a Nefarious Deed she’s convinced involves the Flash Gang. Rescuing Lewis is right up her alley.

The truth is, a Nefarious Deed is afoot, one that threatens the entire country. It will take Lewis and Pearl joining forces to save the recipe and themselves against an enemy who will stop at nothing, including kidnapping and, very possibly, murder.

About the Authors: M.M. Downing & S.J. Waugh joined forces to write the sort of stories they loved reading when they were ten. They also write books for teens and grownups, but that’s for another day. You can learn more about them and The Adventures of The Flash Gang here:

Begins February 23
Ends March 19 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this post. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by MMPublicity, publisher, or author. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

All Through the Night: Important Jobs that Get Done at Night by Polly Dunbar | Ages 2-5 [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

My thoughts: 
We don't live in a 9-5:00 work world and much work that is vital is done throughout the day and night. The sun may set, but work still continues on through the dark night hours. In All Through the Night: Important Jobs that Get Done at Night the young child can see how adults work while the child sleeps and how they do the important jobs at night as well as during the day.

Bright, highly detailed illustrations show the continuous hustle and bustle of night. The story explores with brief text a wide variety of jobs that carry on during the night hours. For those families with a parent whose work involves night work, this will be invaluable in helping the child understand the multifaceted work of night. For other children, it will help them learn that while they sleep others are keeping the world safe, clean, fed, etc. 

About the book: This beautifully illustrated picture book showcases the workers that keep a city running all through the night and make it ready for the new day.

The sky is getting dark. In the city, a little girl is eating her dinner, brushing her teeth, and getting ready for bed. Meanwhile, her mother is putting on her coat and getting ready to go to work. Where is she going and who will she see along the way? As the night goes on, readers will see nurses, cleaners, delivery workers, doctors, police officers, journalists, and many other workers who help keep the city running all through the night.
Begins February 22
Ends March 17  @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA
NO P.O. Boxes
Canadian winners must provide Phone number
DISCLOSURE: I receive 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 publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Forged In Love (Wyoming Sunrise #1) by Mary Connealy [Review & Giveaway]

When sparks begin to fly, can a friendship cast in iron be shaped into something more?

My thoughts:  Mary Connealy has packed an exciting western frontier story with danger, romance, a winsome and protective dog, and women's rights all enveloped in her trademark witty style. This light hearted read is welcome in a world where there is so much darkness.

The story begins with a bullets-flying stagecoach robbery and ends with a daring rescue. Centered around a woman, Mariah, working as a blacksmith and a man, Clint, working as a fancy chef in his own restaurant and fluffed out with a borrowed dog whose big heart saves the day more than once.

Mary's books usually come in series of three. There were three young ladies in Forged In Love. I'm assuming one of these ladies will be the main lead in book two. I can hardly wait.

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

About the book: Mariah Stover is left for dead and with no memory when the Deadeye Gang robs the stagecoach she's riding in, killing both her father and brother. As she takes over her father's blacksmith shop and tries to move forward, she soon finds herself in jeopardy and wondering--does someone know she witnessed the robbery and is still alive?

Handsome and polished Clint Roberts escaped to western Wyoming, leaving his painful memories behind. Hoping for a fresh start, he opens a diner where he creates fine dishes, but is met with harsh resistance from the townsfolk, who prefer to stick to their old ways.

Clint and Mariah are drawn together by the trials they face in town, and Clint is determined to protect Mariah at all costs when danger descends upon her home. As threats pursue them from every side, will they survive to build a life forged in love?


Begins February 16
Ends March 14 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions expressed are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and sent directly to the winner by author or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

The Cairo Curse by Pepper Basham

ISBN: 9781636094724

My thoughts:
It isn't often that I put a book aside unfinished, but sadly I just couldn't garner the interest at this time to finish The Cairo Curse. Perhaps another day. 

I found Lady Astley, "Grace," to be a frivolous young lady whose mind was so filled with the fictional books she has read that each and every action and reaction was wrapped with a connection or like action/reaction in a fictional story. It seemed that virtually every paragraph referenced some book or other. While this was the character and trait of this specific character as drawn by the book's author for this specific book series, I found a bit less would have been better.

Will I finish the book at a later date? I may because the story is not a total loss, but it is not one I'm drawn to either.

I look forward to future works by author Pepper Basham and think she most likely has some very good stories to give the world. I rate this ⭐⭐⭐because it has potential.

About the Book: Clue meets Indiana Jones with a fiction-loving twist only Grace Percy can provide.

Newlyweds Lord and Lady Astley have already experienced their fair-share of suspense, but when a honeymoon trip takes a detour to the mystical land of Egypt, not even Grace with her fiction-loving mind is prepared for the dangers in store. From an assortment of untrustworthy adventure-seekers to a newly discovered tomb with a murderous secret, Frederick and Grace must lean on each other to navigate their dangerous surroundings. As the suspects mount in an antiquities’ heist of ancient proportions, will Frederick and Grace’s attempts to solve the mystery lead to another death among the sands?

The Cairo’s Curse is a delightful sequel to The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham in the Freddie and Grace Mystery series, but can also be read as a standalone novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review

Friday, February 3, 2023

Welcome to the Museum books: 1) Historium & 2) Anatomicum [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

Historium Welcome to the Museum by Jo Nelson

ISBN: 9780763679842
US $37.99 / CAN $49.99

My thoughts: 
As with other books in the "Welcome to the Museum" series, Historium is packed with wonderfully illustrated information that will capture reader's attention and hold it.

Historium looks at artifacts gleaned from archeological sites across our Earth and has them divided by civilizations or peoples and time-lines. I found it interesting to see a two-page spread timeline that pictures artifacts through the ages. It is interesting to see some similarities that existed in separate cultures and to compare skill and artistry through the ages.

A welcome book to the home, school, or public library. My suggested ages: Grades 3 - 9.

About the book: Discover more than 160 exhibits in this virtual museum, open all hours.

Welcome to the museum! There are more than 160 historical artifacts to be discovered in Welcome to the Museum: Historium. Wander the galleries of this museum whenever you wish—it’s open 365 days a year!—and discover a collection of curated objects on every page, accompanied by informative text. Each chapter features a different ancient civilization, from the Silla dynasty of Korea to ancient Rome.

Anatomicum (Welcome To The Museum) by Jennifer Z Paxton

ISBN: 9781536215069
US $37.99 / CAN $49.99

My thoughts: 
This is a beautifully and accurately illustrated volume which older children may learn details of the human body. I think it is designed for the middle school age child and has limited, but adequate, text about each of the body's parts. The full body is display as well as intricately drawn smaller sections such as hands, skin, nerves, organs, etc. 

For parents information I will  mention that the human body is fully shown as well as internal arrangement body parts. 

As with each of the "Welcome to the Museum" series books, this is a large format book, is highly informative, of lasting value for the home, school, or public library. My suggested age range: Grades 3-9.

Amazon ranks: 
#4 in Medical Atlases (Books)
#58 in Children's Anatomy Books
#304 in Basic Medical Sciences

About the book: Welcome to the museum that is always open to explore... Step inside the pages of Anatomicum to enjoy the experience of a museum from the comfort of your own home. The 2019 offering from Welcome to the Museum guides readers through the human body, from the muscles we use to show emotion, to the delicate workings of the brain. With sumptuous artwork by Katy Wiedemann and expert text by professor Dr Jennifer Z Paxton, this beautiful book is a feast of anatomical knowledge.

2 Books, 1 Winner
Begins February 4
Ends March 1 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA & CANADA addresses
NO P.O.BOXES. Phone required 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Book prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Good Earth Beauty Exclusives©️ all natural & vegan Lip Balm Made in USA [Review & Giveaway]

There is a saying that "As the days get longer, the cold gets stronger," and we see that is a truism because often we see our coldest most brutal weather in January and February and even to mid-March.

That cold, icy, windy weather wreaks havoc on our skin and especially our lips. They get chapped, rough, split. We need rescue strength help but not necessarily "medical strength."

Find large selection of Good Earth Beauty Lip Balms

We need the Good Earth Beauty Exclusives all natural and vegan lip balms. I've told my readers how much I truly love these little sticks of lip balm. There are several "scents" or "flavors" that are favorites of mine and enough variety that most anyone can find his or her favorite.

Today we're looking at "new-to-me" flavors "Coffee Bean," Cinnamon Bun," and "Espresso" that will add that pick-me-up zest to your day. And as you read on, you'll also have the opportunity to win 3 lip balms of your choice for yourself.

LIP BALM -  NATURAL VEGAN Gift Set - set of 3 - Coffee Bean, Cinnamon Bun, Espresso... 

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

Lip Balm Natural Vegan set of 3 fun, original scents - coffee beans, cinnamon bun, espresso. Made by Good Earth Beauty $15.00/set
Ingredients: Meadowfoam oil, olive oil, avocado butter, candellia wax, vitamin E, natural flavor oil

So many fun, original scents that you may choose from - Coffee Bean, Espresso, Cinnamon Bun, Chocolate Mint, Day At the Beach, Pina Colada, Candy Hearts, Honey Almond, Bubble Gum, Coconut, Candy Cane Mint, Chocolate Mint, Vanilla Mint, Vanilla Marshmallow, Jelly Beans, Candy Corn, Apple Pie, Frosted Gingerbread, Pink Lemonade, Strawberry, Sugar Cookie, Vanilla Lemon Cupcake or Pumpkin Pie! Made by Good Earth Beauty Price: $6.25 each. Also, several sets-of-3 at a savings.

Shop Good Earth Beauty
10% off with Discount Code: VERA10

3 GEB Lip Balms "Winner's Choice" for 1 Winner
Begins February 1
Ends February 24 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary products to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Good Earth Beauty Exclusives or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Farm Boots by Lisl H. Detlefsen and illustrated by Renée Kurilla [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 978-1948898119
Hardcover $17.99

My thoughts: 
This is a delightful book that teaches the varied life of those who live on a farm and how each family member engages in the life and chores of the farm. Primarily, the focus is on boots and how each type of chore and each season brings a need for a different type of boot.

As a parent, my first thought was how does a family budget for so many boots but it was a consoling thought that the care and protection of the feet by using different protection is primary.

Colorful and delightful pictures illustrate the book showing a happy family and cheerful, frolicking animals. A nice, educational look at farm life.

About the book: Grab your boots it's time to explore life on a farm! In joyful verse follow a diverse cast of families as they work together to care for crops and animals on their farms through spring, summer, fall and winter.

Follow farming families as they work and play in boots, all year long. Whether it's springtime puddle-splashing, riding at the summer fair, or herding sheep into the barn in winter, there's a type of boot for every kind of weather and activity.

Each season brings adorable farm animals, farming equipment, and of course boots in this exploration of farm and country life.

From the creators of Right This Very Minute, Farm Boots depicts a wide variety of agricultural settings in all four seasons. It is a celebration of footwear, fun, and life, both on and off the farm.

About the author: Lisl H. Detlefsen is the author of a growing number of picture books. Her titles about agriculture include Time for Cranberries, illustrated by Jed Henry, and Right This Very Minute, her first book with illustrator Renée Kurilla. Lisl lives on a family-owned and operated cranberry marsh in central Wisconsin with her husband, two sons, two cats, and an ever-changing collection of farm boots for all seasons. Visit Lisl online: Website, Facebook, Twitter

About the illustrator: Renée Kurilla is a children's illustrator, author, and designer. She loves drawing nature, animals, and working on projects that require a little bit of research. She has illustrated many books for kids including Orangutanka by Margarita Engle, Chicks Rule! (by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen), Right This Very Minute (by Lisl H. Detlefsen), and the Ada Lace series by Emily Calandrelli. Renee has a BFA in Illustration and a Diploma in Graphic Design from Lesley University College of Art and Design. She currently lives in MA with her illustrator husband Keith Zoo, their 5 year old daughter, Zoey, and the fluffiest cat in the world, Timmy. Visit Renée online: Website, Twitter, Instagram

Publisher: Feeding Minds Press is a project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture whose mission is to build awareness and understanding of agriculture through education. We focus on helping young readers understand where their food comes from, who grows it, and how it gets to them and believe in cultivating curiosity about food and farming and how agriculture plays a role in our daily lives. All books from Feeding Minds Press have accompanying lessons, activities, and videos to further learning available on their website.

Begins January 22
Ends February 18 @ 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 copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Of Walden Pond: Henry David Thoreau, Frederic Tudor, and the Pond Between by Lesa Cline-Ransome and Ashley Benham Yazdani! [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780823448586
Hardcover | $18.99 US

My thoughts: 
A beautifully illustrated and written book. Thoreau and his life at Walden pond is familiar as his writings were a source of study when I was in school. Mr. Tudor I had never heard of. As much as Mr. Thoreau loved and protected Walden pond and his own privacy, this story of Mr. Tudor's blossoming ice business really came as a surprise to me. Though it was not even mentioned in this book, I can only imagine the stress Tudor's presence and his invasive ice harvest at Walden pond had on Thoreau and how Thoreau might have opposed it.

The story is basically about Tudor's success in creating a market for the ice that topped Walden pond and which he had cut into blocks and shipped to India. The "bounty" of Walden pond for both men is touched upon - the ice for Tudor and the "inspiration" for Thoreau. 

The text speaks to Thoreau's limited touch upon the natural resources of Walden pond with his tiny cabin in the woods where he had just enough room to write of the wonders of nature and the waters of Walden pond.

I really like this book and it gives a brief bio-introduction into Walden pond, Thoreau, and Tudor.

About the book:  Thoreau and Tudor could not have been more different from each other. Yet both shared the bounties of Walden Pond and would change the course of history through their writings and innovations.

This study in opposites contrasts the austere philosopher with the consummate capitalist (whose innovations would change commercial ice harvesting and home refrigerator s) to show how two seemingly conflicting American legacies could be built side by side.

tax dodger
nature lover
That's what they called

good for nothing
That's what they called

Celebrated author Lesa Cline-Ransome takes her magnificent talent for research and detail to plumb the depths of these two history-makers. The graceful text is paired with Ashley Benham-Yazdani's period accurate watercolor and pencil artwork. In winter, readers see Tudor's men sawing through the ice, the workhorses dragging the ice, and Thoreau observing it all; in spring, summer, and fall, the ice continues its journey across the globe with Thoreau and Tudor writing and reflecting in their respective diaries.

An Author's Note, which explores how Thoreau's writings influenced such figures as Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Frost, and Mohandas Gandhi, is included. 
Begins January 14
Ends February 10 @ 12:01 a.m. ET
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Holiday House Books 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. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.