Friday, March 31, 2023

Earth Day picture books that are entertaining and educational (Earth Day is April 22) [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker

ISBN: 9781536223293
Hardcover | $18.99

My thoughts:
  A wordless book! An Aaron Becker treasure! Every pictured wordless story by Becker I've had the pleasure of experiencing has been exceptionally astute. Exceptionally detailed.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Under Fire (Defend and Protect series) by Lynn H. Blackburn

ISBN: 9780800737979
Paperback $16.99

My thoughts:
  From the very opening pages of this Secret Service themed book, the characters hit the ground running and the run is exciting and dangerous.

Set in my own home state's capital, Raleigh, North Carolina, I can sense the reality of each scene, character's development, life styles, and basic living. A bit of modern southern charm seeps in but the female lead is no weak southern belle. She is a strong individual both mentally, physically, and spiritually despite a flawed background and past.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Abraham & Issac's story unfolds in stirring new film "HIS ONLY ON" opening March 31 in theaters [Review & Giveaway]

MY THOUGHTS: After viewing a pre-release screening of HIS ONLY SON, I am honored to share the film's information with my readers and highly recommend it to you.

Angel Studios. creators of stirring series "The Chosen," have a new film that portrays the Old Testament story of Abraham and Issac. From a time 2000 years before the birth of Christ (so 4000 years ago), Abaham and his family and servants are living a nomadic life as Abraham heeds God's telling him to leave his home and journey afar. Now with his son by his side, Abraham travels on the most emotionally frought journey known to man.

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. 

My thoughts: From the moment I picked up my copy of Dreams of the Heart, I was was impressed with the beautiful sweetness of the cover. The pink dress, flowers, and lady each have a softness and gentle beauty that drew this reader's mind and heart. This type of story is so very much needed in today's harsh, worldly, and often evil world. That is not to say that Dreams of the Heart is a sugar coated traipse into an unrealistic world. 

In the Wyoming Sunrise Series we meet individuals who populate small cities or towns in the rough and tough Wyoming territory. John Mark, the newly appointed Deputy of Poplar Springs, whose responsibility is the maintain a sense of law and order, is often fraught with corralling drunks from the saloon and rounding up stagecoach robbers. He has a respectful, protective nature of women, and it grieves him when he sees young and lovely Hannah Bane sitting on a bench outside the saloon night after night waiting to take her abusive drunken father home.

An unscrupulous and dangerous situation begins to shape up that will place Hannah in unspeakable danger and John Mark steps in to change the plan. 

The author is known for her strong Christian stories and gentle reads. The sweet romance that blooms in Dreams of the Heart is faith based and squeaky clean. The character's are well developed. The scenes and dialogue give the reader a colorful and easy to follow mind-picture of life in the Wyoming territory of 1894. This story is a joy to read and is a relaxing balm to one's heart and soul.

About the book: 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.

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.