Monday, November 20, 2017

Getting ready for a "Geographic Bee"? Check out "How to Ace the National Geographic Bee" from National Geographic [Review & Giveaway]

Many years ago when I was a secondary school student, yep a long time ago, they taught geography as a class in school. I loved geography and maps and learning about people, places, and pretty much everything global. But I didn't enjoy giving oral reports which were required weekly. Reports on countries, weekly reader (our news source) reports, etc. This always caused moments of dread and insecurity.

So I offer real heart-felt praise to kids who not only have the knowledge of world geography to head for a Geography Bee (think "spelling bee" on steroids) but the personality to actually stand in front of people - large groups of people - and be judged for their knowledge.

I also offer real thanks to the National Geographic Society for getting schools and private entities involved in the instruction of students in the subject of geography. For awhile, this was not available to students in schools and was a real deficit.

Part of this renewed interest in the subject and focus on geography has been the annual National Geographic Bee. And students are preparing for this entertaining and challenging local, state, and national competition. Students in grades 4-8 who have amassed a lot of world geographic knowledge will compete. To prepare they not only pay close attention to what they learn in school, they glean knowledge from other sources as well. One of the best to ready them for this challenging competition is the How to Ace the National Geographic Bee. The book is packed with a plethora of maps, charts, pictures, statistics, and pertinent information bites that will most certainly prepare the most avid student for being an astute student of geography.

Quite frankly, I am literally amazed at the amount of information this little book contains on this world, the countries, their capitals, the people, the land masses, the populations, etc. A real educational treasure.

GIVEAWAY
Begins November 21
Ends December 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Ace the National Geographic Bee, 5th Edition (ages 9-12) 


This book is the only official study guide available and is chock full of tips from previous finalists, past questions, a country index of vital stats, and recommendations for the best study tools.  The Bee is designed to engage students in diverse ways, challenging them to memorize geographic knowledge, synthesize it, and apply it accurately, compellingly, and creatively.  How to Ace the National Geographic Bee is specifically written to prep the aspiring champion with not just facts, but thought-process as well.  It offers a top ten list of study tips – “learn the language of maps” (latitude and longitude, meridians and Mercators) and “choose your tools” (a large world map, an atlas, and satellite images are a must!) – and advice from past finalists, including “trust your gut,” “be passionate,” and “take the opportunity to learn.” A comprehensive list of sample questions range from “Harry [Potter] catches the train to Hogwarts at Kings Cross station in what major European city?” to “What landlocked country is located farther from an ocean – Paraguay or Kazakhstan?”


About the National Geographic Bee:  

The Bee involves more than 10,000 schools and millions of students from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. territories, and Department of Defense Dependents Schools overseas. After passing their school’s Bee which occur in the Fall, the online qualifying test, and State Bee, the 54 “state” champions receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the National Championship May 20-23, 2018.  After a preliminary competition on May 21, the top 10 students will compete in a televised final round on May 23, vying for a $50,000 college scholarship, a lifetime membership in the Society, including a subscription to National Geographic magazine, and an all-expenses-paid Lindblad expedition to the Galápagos Islands aboard the new National Geographic Endeavour ll. Travel for the trip is provided by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic. Second- and third-place finishers will receive $25,000 and $10,000 college scholarships, respectively. The program will be broadcast on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD, and later on public television stations nationwide.

How to Ace the National Geographic Bee is the perfect resource to help millions of school kids prepare to compete in the Bee. It's also a fun and helpful resource for trivia buffs, challenge seekers, and college-bound test-takers.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of National Geographic Kids to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Really Woolly Christmas Blessings By DaySpring and Bonnie Rickner Jensen

ISBN: 9780718097417
Board Book $9.99

My thoughts: Grandmommies usually have a soft, warm-fuzzy spot for kiddie board books. Perhaps it began when our own children were young and had "cloth" books or the wide assortment of Little Golden Books. But back-in-the-day our little children didn't have good books that were charming, sturdy, and crafted with top of the line writing. I guess that tells how old this grandmommy is, but the truth of the matter is that I just love board books like Really Wooly Christmas Blessings.

This is a sturdy board book with slightly padded cover and sized just right for young (not tiny) hands to carry about. The sweet animals, angels, shepherds, and others with lovely colors are charming. Each two page spread is a story in verse and an accompanying Bible verse from the International Children's Bible. (Chat With Vera reader know my preference is KJV). There is a short prayer bringing an end to the reading.

The focus of this little book is blessings! The blessing of God's Plan. The blessing of baby Jesus! And on to the daily blessings of a friend, a song, light, etc. You can take a little one from Christmas time's wondrous story of the Saviour's birth into the child's daily life and teach him or her to recognize that there are blessings abounding all around us. The message of this book encompasses the might and power of the name of Jesus, His birth, His good news, His light. This is a powerful intro written in a sweet, heartwarming rhyme that will seat these truths into the heart and mind of a child.

Thomas Nelson Publishers and TommyNelson with DaySpring have produced a very nice little book for little ones. I highly recommend.


About the book: Christmastime is full of blessings, and the Really Woolly characters celebrate every part of the season—from time with family and friends, to sledding and decorating, to the joy of giving to others.

Cuddle up close with your little one, and enjoy the precious rhymes, meaningful Bible verses, simple prayers, and endearing illustrations that teach about the greatest Christmas gift of all—the birth of Jesus.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook Blog Review program on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishers and the author to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible by Jared Kennedy, Illustrated by Trish Mahoney from New Growth Press [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: I have found publications from New Growth Press to be Biblically accurate and well written. The illustrations chosen for each of the publications for children that I have reviewed have been different and quite interesting and appealing. Previous books I've reviewed were by Marty Machowski and well done. Mr. Machowski highly recommends Jared Kennedy's (MDiv, ThM) The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible saying, "...I will be placing a copy of this book in all our children's ministry classrooms and recommending that every family in our church with small children add it to their bookshelf." High praise from a pastor and children's book author.

This is a somewhat large book but not overly so. There are about 50 stories so you can do one a week or more - whatever suits your family schedule. The illustrations are graphic designs done by Trish Mahoney and very colorful in the primary color range. The people are stylized and not realistic looking.

A brief application is made with each story enabling parents to guide children in their thinking outside of the actual storyline.

With the assortment of Old Testament and New Testament stories, you can begin to teach your young child the beauty of knowing their Bible and the lessons it holds for everyone. I like that the stories in this compilation include Paul's missionary journeys and the promise of Christ's second coming.

About the book: Kids know the value of a promise. Through the gospel, our good and all-powerful God keeps his word and fulfills his promises to us better than we could have ever thought or imagined!

In The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible, author Jared Kennedy traces God's perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories, retold in simple and compelling ways with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Each gospel-centered story highlights God's tale of redemption through Jesus and the unexpected and surprising ways that God's grace and mercy are revealed throughout the Bible. Children will hear the good news of God's love for them clearly expressed in ways that will speak to their young hearts. Brightly colored illustrations highlight the stories and add fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to keep even the youngest child's attention. Every story also ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the message.
  • Through reading this book one chapter at a time to your children---or letting them read it to you!---even the youngest kids will come to know that God's promises are especially for them, and that God always keeps his promises.
  • Gospel-centered Bible stories expressed in ways that speak to toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Children will learn the good news of God's love for them.
  • Traces God's perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories.
  • Brightly colored illustrations by Trish Mahoney highlight each story and add fun elements to keep young children's attention.
  • Each story ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to reinforce the message.
More information, read a sample, and purchase a copy: here

GIVEAWAY
Begins November 15
Ends December 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author: Jared Kennedy, MDiv, ThM, is the husband to Megan and the father of three girls---Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. He serves as Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church-Midtown in Louisville, KY and as children's ministry strategist for Sojourn Network. He blogs regularly at gospelcenteredfamily.com and is also the coauthor of Leadership Mosaic and two VBS programs, Proof Pirates and Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher and author to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy is provided by the publisher and winner is selected using the Rafflecopter system.

VANISHING POINT (A Nikki Boyd Novel book #4) by Lisa Harris [Review & Giveaway]


My thoughts: Vanishing Point has a different "feel" to the story in that it doesn't have Nikki Boyd as the primary character. The plot involves the total career of the serial murderer that caused the death of the sister of Nikki Boyd, Sarah. This book takes the reader back to the investigation of cases prior to Sarah's and then leaps to current time when another young woman is missing.

The main characters of Vanishing Point are a local investigatory, Garrett, and Jordan an FBI agent who is called in to help with the local investigation. And coincidentally, Garret and Jordan were once an "item." They both still have feelings for the other but don't act on them, moving on.

But another case investigation brings them back together years later. Following accumulating clues in a series of murders and juggling their feelings toward each other, Garrett and Jordan encounter obstacles that test their fortitude and problem solving abilities.

Thought provoking references to the age old question of "Where is God when bad things happen?" are raised and conclusions worth considering for resolution to this issue are pointed discussions and thought processes in the story.

While written in a slow, steady pace in the early portions of the book, a rapid, nail biting suspenseful end wraps up the four book series and places the culprit squarely in the hands of officials.

About the book: During Garrett Addison's first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She's the third victim in a string of disappearances with one thing in common--a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies--number six--Garrett blames himself and believes he doesn't have what it takes to be an agent. What he'll discover is that, while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him--or Jordan.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris unveils an unforgettable story of a case that has haunted the public and law enforcement for more than a decade. Fans of the Nikki Boyd Files will thrill to finally discover what actually happened to Nikki's sister, Sarah. New readers will become instant fans after devouring this chilling tale. Universal Buy Link for Vanishing Point: books2read.com/u/31MQDv
GIVEAWAY
Begins November 20
ENDS December 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. Giveaway is provided by the author or publisher directly to the winner.

Friday, November 17, 2017

A gift that brings the family together and teaches honor and character


How to start a family tradition that is meaningful and creates memories lasting a lifetime. . . .  


Family Honor Plate

The Family Honor Plate starts as a DIY ceramics-painting project you get to create and bake at home. Then it turns into a fun family tradition and parenting tool to raise our children in the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as written in Galatians 5:22. 

I was so excited when I saw this product. I see it as something that can be uised in such a variety of ways. Mom (or Dad) can turn on their own creative juices and make this an "gift" or "artistic offering" to their own beloved family by painting their own design around the rim and then the plate can be used on special occasions.
Kit comes preprinted with text in middle.
You or your family design and paint borders with paints provided.

Or it can be turned into a "kids only" artistic endeavor (guidance recommended, of course) where the kids actually do the artistic work and then it becomes a plate that is utilized by the family in whatever way they benefit most from it.

Whatever the family decides is the best way for them to create their own personal Family Honor Plate, it will become a treasure. (Clue to note: As a grandparent, I have magnets and other little pieces of creativity that my grands have made and they bring joy to my heart.) Find and order plates - click here.

Table Thyme Discussion Cards

These fun questions from the Table Thyme Discussion Cards take conversations to a deeper level and teach everyone in the family how to articulate and share special memories, learn how to voice their opinions, and for some how to even have an opinion. These are skills required for success in relationships and careers.  This is a fun way for children to learn these skills naturally.

This is a concise flip-card-holder that keeps the cards together and easy to use and to store. Helps to get conversations started and expand communication in family and develop skills children need to converse at table. Find and order it - click here.

DISCLOSURE: I received both products to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given. I have not actually painted the product myself (I am definitely not artistic) but I do plan to pass it along to my daughter who has a young family. She is definitely artistic and I can hardly wait to see her creation!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Deadly Proof - Atlanta Justice Book 1 by Rachel Dylan (Legal Thriller / Suspense from Bethany House Publishers) [Review & Giveaway]


My thoughts:  I find it fascinating to read about the inner workings of legal procedures as a case comes to trial. It doesn't matter if the main story is about the prosecution's side or that of the defendant. It is interesting. Of course, I don't understand the terms being used, but the author's ability to write about how information is gathered and presented and what is and is not allowed in court is certainly evidenced in Deadly Proof as practicing attorney and author Rachel Dylan takes us into the world where pharmaceutical research and marketing meet the road with attorneys and judges.

I live in an area that has several major  pharmaceutical research and development companies. These are mega corporations with global marketing. I have known marketing people and research scientists personally in some of these companies. There are also a couple of major research hospitals in our area and these play a major role in the development of cutting edge medicines that are marketed by these global corporations. I can see a situation such as the one fictionalized in Deadly Proof easily a reality.

As author Rachel Dylan weaves this story of corporate greed, medical travesty, and thrilling legal expertise the depth to which corporate greed and criminal intent can go lead the reader through scenes terrifyingly rife with nail-biting realism.

Touched by a bit of romance that softens the harshness of a world gone bad, the book concludes on an uplifting and joyful note.

About the book: Tapped as lead counsel in a corporate cover-up lawsuit against Mason Pharmaceutical, Kate Sullivan knows this case could make her career. What really drives her, though, is getting justice for the victims whose lives were ruined by the company's dangerous new drug. But when a whistleblower turns up dead, it paints a target on the back of everyone involved.

Former Army Ranger turned private investigator Landon James steps in to handle security for Kate. He's still haunted by mistakes in his past and is determined never to let something like that happen again. But it soon appears someone is willing to do anything---even commit murder---to keep the case from going to trial.

As danger closes in, Landon can't help but admire Kate's courage and resolve---but will her determination not to back down become too great of a risk?
Dylan pin1
About the author: Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction including inspirational romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense and the Windy Ridge Legal Thriller series. Rachel has practiced law for almost a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids--two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers. You can find Rachel at www.racheldylan.com.

More book and author information & reviews

GIVEAWAY
Begins November 17
ENDS December 6 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Giveaway copy is provided to readers of Chat With Vera compliments of Litfuse Publicity Group and the publisher. Winner's copy will be mailed directly to the winner by Litfuse or publisher.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What is currently on the docket at Chat With Vera?

Click image for review & giveaway page. All giveaways are open to USA only unless specifically noted in the review.


GOOD EARTH BEAUTY Naturals National Geographic Kids books for gifting teachers/kids The Beginner's Gospel Story BibleA KING JAMES CHRISTMAS Museum of the Bible Children's books DEADLY PROOF by Rachel Dylan

The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible by Jared Kennedy & Illustrated by Trish Mahoney from New Growth Press [Giveaway]

About the book: Kids know the value of a promise. Through the gospel, our good and all-powerful God keeps his word and fulfills his promises to us better than we could have ever thought or imagined!

In The Beginner's Gospel Story Bible, author Jared Kennedy traces God's perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories, retold in simple and compelling ways with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Each gospel-centered story highlights God's tale of redemption through Jesus and the unexpected and surprising ways that God's grace and mercy are revealed throughout the Bible. Children will hear the good news of God's love for them clearly expressed in ways that will speak to their young hearts. Brightly colored illustrations highlight the stories and add fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to keep even the youngest child's attention. Every story also ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the message.
  • Through reading this book one chapter at a time to your children---or letting them read it to you!---even the youngest kids will come to know that God's promises are especially for them, and that God always keeps his promises.
  • Gospel-centered Bible stories expressed in ways that speak to toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Children will learn the good news of God's love for them.
  • Traces God's perfect promises through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories.
  • Brightly colored illustrations by Trish Mahoney highlight each story and add fun elements to keep young children's attention.
  • Each story ends with a question that parents and caregivers can use to reinforce the message.
More information, read a sample, and purchase a copy: here

GIVEAWAY
Begins November 15
Ends December 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway Author: Jared Kennedy, MDiv, ThM, is the husband to Megan and the father of three girls---Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. He serves as Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church-Midtown in Louisville, KY and as children's ministry strategist for Sojourn Network. He blogs regularly at gospelcenteredfamily.com and is also the coauthor of Leadership Mosaic and two VBS programs, Proof Pirates and Clap Your Hands, Stomp Your Feet.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the publisher and author to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy is provided by the publisher and winner is selected using the Rafflecopter system.

Holiday gifts for kids and teachers from National Geographic Kids [Review & Giveaway]


Let's think about school and the upcoming holidays......

As one who worked in schools for many years, I know the cycle of holiday breaks and I know how students and their parents look forward to these days. Teachers, too! And part of the Christmas holidays is the "gift for teacher" that many families lovingly bestow on their child's classroom teacher.

Most often, these are trinkets and gifts designed for a teacher. We've all seen them in the stores and the teachers usually have a host of them already in their possession. Not that they they don't appreciate your loving gift, but sometimes something a bit more useful is more appreciated.

Have you ever thought of a new book for the classroom bookshelf? All elementary and most middle school teachers have a bookshelf and teacher's own funds usually purchase these books. And the teachers (and students in the class) absolutely love it when a good, quality, fun, and educational book is added. That's where National Geographic fits in so nicely. They have an absolute plethora of wonderful books from which you may choose. Below are just a few that you might want to consider......

They are fun, visually stunning, totally engrossing AND educational (but don't tell kids that last part!).  Here's a brief rundown of a few of the titles  and book covers:

Weird But True! Christmas: 300 Festive Facts to Light Up the Holidays — (ages 8-12, 208 pages)
The PERFECT stocking stuffer! Ready for some totally festive facts? Even Christmas can be weird -- it's true! Did you know that Santa's reindeer are probably all female? Or that artificial snow can be made from seaweed? Or that "Jingle Bells" was the first Christmas carol sung in space? Every kid will ho ho ho when they unwrap this book that is chocked full of the most random and fascinating facts about their most favorite holiday.
My thoughts: This is cute. Lots of fun, silly, interesting little bits of information that will entertain kids during Christmas and other times as well. 


Ultimate Dinopedia - (ages 7-10, 296 pages) Attention dinosaur fanatics! This is a big, gift-worthy hardcover that is also the most complete and comprehensive dinosaur reference ever. Although these amazing creatures roamed the Earth ages ago, new dinosaur discoveries are still being made today.  The new edition includes 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.
My thoughts: Another great and interesting book about the species "dinosaur" from the good folks at National Geographic Kids. What was really surprising to me is the huge chart/ table of dinosaurs by name and where they are located. I had no idea there were so many types. 

Bet You Didn’t Know: Fascinating, Far-Out, Fun-tastic Facts - (ages 8-12, 192 pages) “...the whole outing is really tailor-made for dipping and flipping at random....A bodacious wellspring of random knowledge."— Starred review, Kirkus Reviews. BIG, packed with gorgeous photos and illustrations and guaranteed to keep kids occupied for hours and hours, Bet You Didn’t Know is the perfect holiday gift for the fact-lover or for your kid’s favorite teacher’s classroom. Did you know that the first stop signs were black and white? Or that a litter of kittens is called a kindle? Or that butterflies can see more colors than humans can?  Based on a favorite department in Nat Geo Kids magazine, this book is overflowing with fascinating facts, silly stats, and catchy little knowledge nuggets in all kinds of cool categories, from astronomy and sea creatures to revolutions and breakfast. Special features include Extreme Weirdness, Strange Places, Wacky World, and more.
My thoughts: Attention span a wee bit short sometimes? Still you can engage the mind and learn fun and interesting stuff with a book like Bet you didn't know! National Geographic Kids has another slam-dunk with this one.


Just Joking Jumbo — (ages 7-10, 288 pages)  What do you get when you have 1,000 giant jokes and 1,000 funny photos?  A stocking stuffer that adds up to some seriously big laughs! If you have a budding stand up comedian on your list this year - this is the perfect book for them.  Knock-knocks, puns, riddles, tongue-twisters, photos of silly situations and even the craziest info about the history of funny business - it’s all here!
My thoughts: Who ever thought joking around could be fun and tweaked with learning as well? Got 'cha! National Geo Kids, of course. Sprinkled throughout are little bits of information that sneak in unawares. Kind of fun to learn this way.
Hey, Baby! A Collection of Pictures, Poems and Stories from Nature’s Nursery - (all ages, 192 pages) Sweet dreams are made of this! Join National Geographic Kids on a trip around the globe to celebrate nature's nursery.This collection of stunning photography of wee ones of the wild world will inspire, awe and awww. With dynamic profiles, clever poems, time-tested folktales, amazing rescue stories, and unlikely animal friendships, this book will be a favorite with sleepy little ones, new parents and moms-to-be. Featuring everything from wobbly baby bison to teeny turtles, mini-monkeys to fluffy foxes, this is the perfect keepsake book for the baby animal lover in us all.
My thoughts: As always, the babies get our warm fuzzy on and bring joy and smiles to all of us. Learning about these sweet little ones - and such a variety of critters - is such fun. Engaging for any age.
GIVEAWAY - 2 WINNERS
1st Place = Choice of 3 of these books
2nd Place = Remaining 2 books
Begins November 15
ENDS December  1 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of these books to facilitate this spotlight/review. Any opinions expressed are solely my own and are freely given. Books provided by National Geographic Kids.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Winter is time for Chili - Cooking with Vera offers this version

Here in North Carolina winter comes a little later than our Northern neighbors who have been having snow and frigid temps for more than a month now. But here in the second week of November it has finally gotten to be coat weather and all the pretty flowers froze over with dipping evening temperatures.

So that makes it a good time to break out the wonderful Cuisinart Slow Cooker that my kids gave me and cook up a batch of chili. I love this Cuisinart Slow Cooker because I can sautè in it as well as slow cook. Saves having to use multiple pans. There are only two in our small household now so this batch will last awhile, but it freezes well. So, hey, dinner again in a couple of weeks is ready to go. Best "take out" ever! You know, "take out of the freezer"!

So I decided to snap a few pictures and show you how this Southern Lady makes up a batch of chili. You can tweak it how-some-ever you want to and make it as hot as you wish. We prefer a mild chili that warms, not cooks our tummies. So here we go.....
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Customize a free digital slideshow

I used venison that my son provided. He is a hunter here in North Carolina and provides venison for himself, his son in another city, my husband and I, and families in need. I sautèed the meat in extra virgin olive oil and then added the chopped onion (I use a sweet or a valdia onion) and sautèed it a bit more. Ready to add  are a large can of Muir Glen organic fire roasted tomatoes, a standard can each of light red kidney beans, pinto beans, and great northern beans. I like to use a variety of beans in my chili.

Onion (sweet onion or vidalia) is chopped on my handy small chopping board. Then sautèed a bit more with venison. I use a El Paso mild taco seasoning pack which gives just enough heat. I don't add anything else to season it. Slow cooking enhances the flavor and spices so less is best in my opinion. I also don't add additional salt as the canned beans and tomato have adequate salt.

It is a simple process and a hearty meal. You can vary the beans and this particular slow cooker can hold twice as much. I used one pound venison but beef can be used as well. Just be sure you use lean meat, sautèed in olive oil, and toss the rest into the mix. Larger batches require an additional packet of seasoning and you can choose a spicier variety if that is to your taste.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A King James Christmas: Biblical Selections with Illustrations from Around the World edited by Catherine Schuon and Michael Oren Fitzgerald [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781937786038
Hardcover $19.95
My thoughts: I was expecting a "Christmas" book steeped in classic art with accompanying Scripture from the King James translation of the Bible. What it actually is, though, is Christ's birth and early life and a third section on His teachings using famous art from around the world to illustrate compiled portions of Scripture in the King James Version.

This is quite a book. But as with all books, some will like it more than others. Since much of the classic art pieces were executed many years ago when the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches were dominant, there is much focus on the Madonna and Child with accompanying halos around their heads. There is a table of illustrations at the back of the book identifying each of the pieces of art with artist, location, year work was finished and name of piece of art. This is very nice for children and adults who will be visiting locales that display this art but it also works as a tutorial in naming and identifying art. It is amazing to behold art that has existed for 1,000 years or more.

Back to the purpose and splendor of the book..... the real gem to me is that they are using the beautiful King James Version to recount the birth of Christ, His childhood, and His teachings. This even includes a wonderful section of the Sermon on the Mount.

I don't really see this as a children's book, but a family book. One that can be tucked away on the family bookshelf and referred to at special times.

Very nice and worth pursuing.
GIVEAWAY
Begins November 13
ENDS December 4 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
About the book: Beautifully crafted and presented, A King James Christmas is sure to become a new Christmas classic for the entire family. Excerpts from the Gospels are woven together to form a seamless and easy-to-follow story of Jesus’ birth and infancy, including the Annunciation, the Visitation, the adoration of the Magi, the presentation of Jesus in the temple, and the flight into Egypt. Also included is the inspiring Sermon on the Mount. Fully illustrated with reproductions of paintings, sculptures, illuminated manuscripts, and stained glass windows from across the globe, A King James Christmas is a feast for the eye and a remarkable celebration of the spirit of Christmas.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Wisdom Tales Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Murder in Disguise (A Professor Preston Barclay Mystery Book 3) by Donn Taylor [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: Having lived many years in a college town and rubbed shoulders with academia, it has been easy to see the characters in author Donn Taylor's works. Having worked as a college professor himself, he has most likely encountered a host of personalities with a bevy of individual quirks. Professor Preston Barclay personifies a highly intelligent college professor who is valued for his knowledge and expertise in his field. So let's look at Preston. He hears a variety of music in his brain and it seems to be triggered by numerous incidents. Most folks hear familiar tunes run through their minds from time to time. Preston has a lot of tunes. And that is not surprising when you consider that the academic, intellectual community ranks high in their pursuit of classic, orchestral, symphonic music.

What triggers such?  This is not addressed in the Preston Barclay Mystery series, but Preston has lost his long time wife whom he loved and who was a classic musician. So perhaps this is the author's way of helping Preston deal with his loss yet keeping his memories of his beloved wife.

On to the story in Murder in Disguise....... It is summer and Professor Barclay is a visiting professor at a college that is undergoing radical change and is not particularly friendly to the Christian beliefs of the professor. He seems to get tangled into an investigation that is not an investigation of his friend's death that has been ruled suicide. But you see, Preston doesn't believe his friend would have been suicidal. As the story proceeds he runs afoul various situations revealing more than murder and suicide taking place in the community in which the campus resides.

For readers wanting murder and mayhem in its most disgusting form, Murder in Disguise is not the read for you. If you want a bit of suspense, characters with sense of humor in their flawed personalities, oddities such as hearing Beethoven's 5th when confronted with a situation and all done without the rawness that is prevalent in secular works, then you'll enjoy Donn Taylor's book. Frankly, I thoroughly enjoy his wit and his development of characters and his presentation of the college scene.

A good book to read and share.

About the book: Official verdict:  Suicide. But why would that vigorous department chairman commit suicide? And did he kill himself to avoid disgrace from the impending exposure of his activities on the dark side became known? When visiting professor Preston Barclay questions his long-time friend's suicide, he receives threats. Press has enough problems already in proving his competence to students and faculty in the newly-hostile environment of the state university. For the new department chairman and campus radicals do all they can to undermine him. And the sexy female siren assigned as his student assistant creates problems there and with Press's courtship of his colleague Mara Thorn.

Press's questions don't find adequate answers, rumors accuse his friend of involvement in disgraceful activities, and Mara's researches reveal a wide range of criminal activity stretching from the community onto the campus itself. The more things don't add up, the more dangerous the threats become, and the more determined Press becomes to clear his friend's name and find the truth about the alleged suicide.

But can Press and Mara's stumbling efforts to find the truth prevail against the entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger. . . ?

About the author: Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterward, he earned a PhD in Renaissance literature and taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His publications include three suspense novels, one historical novel, and a book of poetry. He lives near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.
GIVEAWAY
Begins November 2
Ends November 16 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway

More reviews and information

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of the author and publisher to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Giveaway copy is provided by the author and mailed by him directly to the winner.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

It's Pumpkin Time at Good Earth Beauty with soap and fragrances [Review & Giveaway]

As Fall breaks on the seasonal scene, much-a-do about pumpkin emerges inundating coffee shops, grocery stores, and most anywhere one shops that caters to tastes of pumpkin-spice. It's in chips, drinks, candies, and of course, baked goods.

The good folks at GoodEarthBeauty.com have taken our love of pumpkin spice a step further and used these wonderful spices and essential oils to produce soaps, fragrances (the kind you wear yourself), shampoos, body washes, etc. and it is WONDERFUL!

But pumpkin spice isn't just for September and October, we have November, December, January. All are wonderful times to enjoy these fragrances that tweak the sensory heart bringing memories and feelings of warmth, happiness, and love to our beings.

Right now I have indulged in the Pumpkin Chai and the Frosted Ginger scented oils on my wrists. I'm not even out of my p.j.s and I just had to have this to begin my day. Folks this is the "no fat" and "no calorie" way to indulge! Lovely!

I showered with the soap and it feels so good. Looking at it one would think "old fashioned lye soap" that is harsh as this soap is not "prettied up" and is just simple and plain. But it absolutely is NOT harsh. It lathers beautifully and my skin feels soft and clean. I'm quite impressed! I have been using a lavender soap from Provence of France (not a brand name) and love it for its fragrance and silky feel to my skin. This Pumpkin soap from Good Earth Beauty is certainly equal to my most favorite soap and perhaps surpasses it because of its pureness.

Now that I've showered-up, fixed my hair, applied my pretty-up-my-face makeup, and donned my going out 'n about clothes, I'm going to dab a bit of Pumpkin Chai on my wrists and enjoy the day.

This is so much fun and I'm inviting you to have a go at it, too. You can order these products on GoodEarthBeauty.com and you can also enter the giveaway hosted here on Chat With Vera and provided by the good folks at GoodEarthBeauty.com.

They are so good to work with and shipping is FREE in the USA. They ship internationally, too, but do have to charge reasonable shipping fees for international.
GIVEAWAY
Begins November 12
ENDS November 26 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This would make a lovely Christmas gift for pumpkin spice lovers! .... Or pick out another variety that appeals for your gifting!

Shop: Use GEB10 for 10% discount

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary set of products from GoodEarthBeauty.com to facilitate my evaluation and review of the products. Opinions are my own alone and no requirement to provide favorable reviews. I was not compensated for this review. Winner's prize is provided and shipped to the winner directly by GoodEarthBeauty.com.

Deeds of Darkness The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon by Mel Starr


ISBN: 9781782642459
$14.99 Paperback
Kregel Publishing
My thoughts: As with the previous eight books I have read in this series, author Mel Starr does not disappoint. As he takes Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon and bailiff, in medieval England about his daily experiences we are given a fabulous glimpse into their the slow paced life and methods used by de Singleton to treat injuries and illnesses, resolve criminal activity, and interact with laborers, clergy, and family.

The books are not lengthy or difficult reading. The "tone" of the writing and speech reflects on what one would expect relevant to the times and sets the pace. Historical detail is interspersed in treatment of wounds, meals consumed (barley loaves and maslin loaves are in abundance), and murders and theft solved using forensic clues and evidence that were available in the 1300s.

In Deeds of Darkness the plague is past leaving the populace sparse with not enough to plow the fields, buy the goods in the stores, etc. But life goes on and Hugh de Singleton plods along the paths and across the streams trying to find out who is murdering people along the road and who is plundering homes when folks are at church.

This is Christian fiction and Singleton's faith is intricately woven into his actions and speech. The Church is Catholic with monasteries and black robed monks abundant and all people are by law required to attend Mass. This leaves homes unoccupied providing opportunity for thieves to plunder. And as admonished in Scripture, one is to have nothing to do with deeds of darkness but is to expose them. And that is just what Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon, does in this story.

A good read and one I can recommend. I found the historic references very interesting and Starr includes a glossary defining period words and terms used in the text.The frequent visits to monasteries for means of meals and lodging and Hugh de Singleton's respect for customs of the monks is interesting and enlightening. And Singleton's wit and conversational thoughts a pleasure to read.

About the book: To bring justice, Master Hugh must foil the corrupt power of great men

Many medieval scholars discontinued their university studies before completing their degree. Some lacked funds; others became bored with a scholar's life. Occasionally these young men formed lawless bands, robbing and raping and creating chaos. They were called goliards.

In Deeds of Darkness Master Hugh learns that the Bampton coroner, an old friend, has been slain while traveling to Oxford. As he seeks the killer (or killers) he discovers a band of goliards in the area between Oxford and Bampton. But how to apprehend these youths? They have protectors far above Hugh's station. He must deal with the claims of justice on the one hand and the power of great men to protect their henchmen on the other. 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Kregel Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. I received no compensation.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women by Lindsay Franklin & published by Zondervan [Review & Giveaway]


My thoughts:  These devotions are so beautifully written and point the young woman reader to a loving God who adores her. But let's start at the beginning - the cover. It is stunning in design, gold foil, and utter femininity. Love the dove which speaks of the Holy Spirit.

There is the encouragement to respect one's own body and treat it with honor in regard to behavior and dress. The consistency and steadfastness of God is brought to the reader's attention. The never failing love and guidance of God for the individual is tenderly brought forth. Truly a wide range of topics appropriate for the young woman.

The short scripture with each devotional is NIV and the text is gently addressed to the young woman (and it is appropriate for women of all ages) bringing her to the realization that she is God's beloved. God's adored.

I prefer the KJV Bible but realize that for many the NIV speaks to them. This devotional is one I can highly recommend and I can't wait to share it with my granddaughter.

About the book: In an ever-changing world, we can be certain of one thing: we are beloved by God. Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women tackles tough topics girls face, from bullying and social media to friendships and dating, all the while showing readers how infinitely precious they are in God’s sight.

Each day features an easy-to-read, relevant devotion paired with a scripture verse and journaling space to help readers reflect on the day’s message. With honest, poignant, and sometimes humorous text, every page will speak to the pressures and changes girls face, giving them real-world applications to find God in their hearts and in their lives. Perfect for everyday use, Adored will resonate with girls searching for truth and guidance. Gift givers will love this highly designed book featuring a beautiful, foiled cover, and two-color interior pages.

GIVEAWAY
Begins October 31
Ends November 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Handlebar Publicity Group on behalf of  Zondervan Publishing to facilitate this review. Giveaway is hosted by Chat With Vera in cooperation with the publisher and Handlebar. Zondervan is graciously providing the winner's copy, but hosting and selection of winner is based on entries solely through the Chat With Vera contest.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

100 Favorite Bible Verses for Children by Tommy Nelson

My thoughts:  Charming is a somewhat overused word but it certainly describes this little book that is packed with whimsical illustrations and biblical truths in the format of a verse, devotion, and prayer that gives parents a grand opportunity to daily impart familiarity of scripture to their little ones.
John 3:16, Psalm 23, 1 John 1:9—learning these truths for the first time is an exciting moment!
Now while I personally believe the KJV is the best translation to use, this little book uses an assortment of translations. The key is to impart the gist of the verse and what it means. Parents can choose the specific version they prefer for any memorization and/or further impartation of understanding.

Let your little one develop the life changing habit of daily reading God's Word and devotionals that help him or her apply these truths to their entire life.

Snuggle time? Absolutely! Grab a favorite blanket, a beloved teddy or dolly, cuddle with mom or dad and learn to hide God's Word in their heart.

About the book: 100 Favorite Bible Verses for Children includes best-loved verses for children and parents to learn together. The verses are in various translations and are paired with fun devotions and prayers. Full of charming animal illustrations, this is an excellent choice for families who want their children to learn God’s Word and apply it in their lives.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook Reviewers program on behalf of the publisher, Thomas Nelson to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Museum of the Bible and Worthy Kids Publishing launch book collection for children [Review & Giveaway]

The Museum of the Bible has now opened in Washington, DC and it would truly be a fabulous place to visit and learn of the Bible's impact on the World through the centuries. And as with most museums, there is a gift shop and most children (adults, too) love to bring home something special to recall their visit to the museum.

Worthy Publishing has a new book imprint - Museum of the Bible books. This new selection of books will feature a variety of books including illuminated portions of the Bible, children's books, and historical volumes. I am featuring four of the children's books that will be found in the Museum of the Bible and in other places where you love to purchase books. And Chat With Vera readers will also be given the opportunity to win one book of their choice from the featured four books.

Children of the World Storybook Bible (hardcover; ages 5 to 8; 256 pgs): A unique storybook Bible that pairs one hundred best-loved Bible stories with artwork from children in over sixty countries around the world.
 My thoughts: Children love books with lots of illustrations that help them to understand the story. And children love to draw and color. Combining the two, you have this new Children's Bible Storybook with stories from the Bible told so they can be read by young readers or for read aloud time. Beautifully written text that is easy to understand yet not so simple that one's intelligence is not challenged.  
Some stories usually left out of children's Bible storybooks are included. Sodom and Gomorrah, The Golden Calf, Achan and the Battle at Ai, etc.  
There is a wonderful People and Places Index at the back of the book and a story Table of Contents at the front. These help readers locate stories and information they wish to read or reread. There is also a two-page spread of Country Map of the World at the back of the book that will be a fun learning tool and highlight.  
The Art: A unique and very important feature of this book is that the illustrations are done by children from all across the World. Credit is given to each and every child for his or her drawing with their first name, age, and the country they are from.
This is definitely a winner! 
What’s the Bible All About? (board book; ages 2 to 5): This powerful introduction gives young children a “big picture” understanding of the Bible—from what it is, to how it was written, to the stories it tells.
My thoughts: This is a highly unusual board book for the young child in that it presents the history of the Bible as it involves different faiths and speaks to the original written Bible being on scrolls. The manner in which this history of the Bible is presented is exceptionally well done for the young child's introduction to the Bible and how it in its various forms is for the Jewish, Christian, and Catholic Christian. Quite different for the young child but entirely appropriate and will provide parents of different faiths an opportunity to address with their child this remarkable book's history. 
I highly recommend.
Wild and Wacky Things in the Bible (paperback; ages 6 to 9; 160 pgs): This book explores the story behind weird and wacky Bible happenings with intriguing facts and bold artwork.
My thoughts: Laid out in attention grabbing microbites of information with short text giving the Wild and Wacky Thing on each two-page spread and the biblical reference for the story, there are other coordinated facts, activities, and Did You Know? areas of information that will add so much fun and learning of science as well as Biblical information. 
Mom and Dad will be interested in this wealth of information that makes delving into Scripture so much fun with lots of emphasis on educational entertainment.

That’s So Weird! (paperback; ages 5 to 8; 112 pgs): Geared to emerging readers, this fun and fascinating book of trivia teaches young children about the whos, whats, and whys of the Bible with a colorful, graphic feel.
My thoughts: Visually fun to look at with it's funny graphics and bold, splashy words, the book grabs the attention of readers young and older with sure fire tantalizing facts about people, things, happenings, and whatever in the Bible that are sure to fascinate. Presented in such an entertaining method, these pertinent bits of information will certainly lead to further discussion of the actual passages from the Bible (referenced with each attention grabbing fact) that enable the reader to know the full depth and breadth of what is actually involved. This one is a sure winner.


Now one of Chat With Vera's  readers has an opportunity to have a copy of one of these children's books. At the end of the entry period a winner will be chosen and then may choose the one book of their choice. Let the fun begin...... 

GIVEAWAY
Winner may select 1 book from the 4 books reviewed
Begins November 6
ENDS November 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to Continental USA addresses only.

Publisher and Museum of the Bible Information - Museum of the Bible is an innovative, global, educational institution whose purpose is to invite all people to engage with the Bible. In 2017, Museum of the Bible, which aims to be the most technologically advanced museum in the world, will open its 430,000-square-foot nonprofit museum just three blocks from the Capitol in Washington, D.C. www.MuseumoftheBible.org  Museum of the Bible Books website


Worthy Publishing Group is a privately held, independent voice in inspirational publishing, based in Nashville, TN. Worthy includes five distinct imprints: Worthy Books publishes inspirational works addressing spiritual growth, biblical study, faith and culture, biography, fiction, and specialty Bibles; Museum of the Bible Books is a partnership between Worthy and the Museum, publishing books that reveal the history, narrative, and impact of the Bible; Ellie Claire produces beautifully crafted journals, gifts, and paper expressions; Worthy Inspired publishes felt-need, spiritual growth, inspirational, and devotional books; and WorthyKids/Ideals creates colorful, interactive children’s books, including VeggieTales and Berenstain Bears, for ages 2 to 8.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided complimentary books to facilitate this review of each book and share my opinions. My opinions are freely given without compensation and are not subject to approval by publisher or author. Giveaway copy to winner will be provided directly to the winner by the publisher.