Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

www.biblegateway.com


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jane of Austin Book Review

A Novel of Sweet Tea and Sensibility

SUMMARY:  Just a few years after their father's business scandal shatters their lives, Jane Woodward and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop.  The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister, Margot, and Jane's tea plants, determined to start over yet again.
     But life in Austin isn't all sweet tea and breakfast tacos.  Their unusual living situation is challenging, and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia.  When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the charm grows deeper.
     While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune - retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett.  Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected - Texas.
     In this modern spin on the Austen classic Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn't so far away.

REVIEW:  When I read Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen the first time, I found it difficult due to the 18th century writing and language.  Throw in some dry British humor and it took me MUCH LONGER to finish than usual.  After watching the movie staring Kate Winslett, Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman about a thousand times :-D I understood it a lot better the second time.  So, when I got the opportunity to read this modern retelling of one of my favorite movies, I couldn't resist.  It also helped that it was written by one of my new favorite authors.
     Jane of Austin was a delight to read!!!  I didn't want to put it down but my boss and family insisted I do the jobs I'm supposed to do.  It was MUCH easier to read and comprehend than the original.  I fell in love with the characters, cried when they cried, laughed when they laughed, and smiled at all the happy parts.  Jane, or Marianne, is the main character.  I liked seeing everything from her point of view.  It helped me understand the original character's actions, reactions and responses a little better.  There were so many things that I enjoyed about this book.  I like how the author used local southern (and Texas) cuisine, tea shops and scones (as well as wonderful recipes) as a part of the story.  The flow of the action and dialog flowed easily.  I found myself excitingly turning pages and disappointed when it ended.
     Whether or not you are a fan of Jane Austen or the movies based on her books, this is one book that you need to read.  I promise, you will NOT be disappointed. It's amazing!!

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review 
without any compensation.

Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of the critically acclaimed Two Blue Doors series and the Plain and Simple duet.  Jane of Austin is her sixth novel.  In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, graphic design, and finding new walking trails.  She resides outside of Memphis, Tennessee, with her husband and two pups.  She can be found online at www.hillarymantonlodge.com.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wings of the Wind Book Review

Out From Egypt series
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Can vengeance give way to forgiveness when one woman's destiny becomes entangled with the very enemies she sought to destroy?
     Motherless and raised alongside her brothers, Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting.  When her father and brothers are killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family.  The one thing she never contended on was surviving.
     Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, has spent his share of time on the battlefield and is shocked to find an unconscious woman among the casualties.  Compelled to bring her to a healer back at the Heb
rew camp, he's unprepared for the consequences of what he intended as an act of compassion.
     In order to survive, Alanah must unite with her enemy.  But will a terrible revelation drive her toward an even greater danger?

REVIEW:  This book was interesting and opened my eyes to how God set the Israelites apart from the Canaanites and other kingdoms.  While it is strictly fiction, I like how the author uses her characters to show us God's bigger plan.  Alanah was a Canaanite who was rescued and taken in by Tobiah, an Israelite.  As she learns about the God of Israel and His laws, she sees how those laws protect everyone in the camp: families, widows, orphans, foreigners and the nation as a whole.  I like how when she faces some major troubles, Alanah remembers God's provision and trusts Him to take care of her and those around her.  Seeing how God took care of His people by doing the unusual and with out of the box thinking to accomplish the impossible made the Old Testament become more real. 
     This book is the third in the series.  Each book stands alone, separated by about twenty years, but does refer to characters and incidences in the others without making the reader seem like they missed something if they didn't read one of the other books.  
     I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading others by this author.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without any compensation.
 
When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure out-of-print history books.  There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus.  Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas.  Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.  

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Essential Amish Cookbook Book Review

Everyday Recipes from Farm & Pantry


SUMMARY:  Taste the goodness of Amish life.
     Bestselling cookbook author and food columnist Lovina Eicher brings together the best of Amish cooking as she shares traditional Amish recipes along with her own kitchen tips and secrets.
     These easy-to-follow, authentic recipes are prepared every day in countless homes in Old Order Amish communities.  In this richly illustrated cookbook with step-by-step photographs, learn Amish cooking just as if you were in Lovina's kitchen.  Make the hearty, similar dishes that the Amish cook together and serve at home, church services, and weddings.

                         Peach Muffins                                   Shoofly Cake
                         Caramel Pecan Rolls                         Grandma's Butterscotch Pie
                         Amish Macaroni Salad                      Fresh Corn Salsa
                         Asparagus Egg Casserole                  Sweet Dills
                         Homestyle Pot Roast                         Hot Pepper Butter
                         Lovina's Homemade Bread               Green Tomato Jam
                         Oven Crusty Chicken                        Amish Wedding Nothings

REVIEW:  I love cookbooks.  This one is no exception.  As stated, the recipes are easy to read and follow.  The pictures, not only of food but life in general within the Amish community, are beautiful.  I like the little tidbits Lovina added to each recipe about favorite recipes, tips, and cute stories.  Some of the recipes are for large quantities so you to make sure you read the recipe closely beforehand because you may need to make some adjustments BEFORE you start cooking.  I like how in the back there are recipes that are for VERY LARGE groups of people.  So, if you are ever in need, you already have some recipes to choose from.
     The recipe my daughter Hannah and I chose was Banana Cookies.  They were similar to banana bread but much lighter and covered in icing.  They were delicious.  Unfortunately, they were really soft but I think that was from the substitutions my daughter and I had to make.  We didn't have any shortening so we used butter instead, in addition to the butter that was called for.  We ran a little short of flour but we made due.  We used fresh and frozen bananas.  My oven and stove are giving me fits so I ended up baking them longer to make sure they were complete cooked.  I ran out of milk so I used buttermilk in the icing and thought it works perfectly. 
     There are a few other recipes I want to try: homemade bread, breakfast casserole, egg dutch, overnight French toast, squash casserole, outrageous chocolate chip cookies, and many more.  Can't wait to start cooking more.

This book was provided by Herald Press for review without any compensation.
 
Lovina Eicher is author of the syndicated column, Lovina’s Amish Kitchen, which appears in 40 newspapers around the United States and on a weekly blog maintain by her editors. She is the author of several cookbooks. Lovina and her husband have eight children and live in rural Michigan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Angel's Share Book Review


This book was read and reviewed by guest commentator, Jennifer Campbell, one of my wonderful and fabulous sisters-in-law.


This book was provided by Fiction Guild and Tyndale House for review without compensation.
 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sandpiper Cove Book Review

Hope Harbor Series
 Book Three

SUMMARY:  Wishing for things that can never be is foolish - or is it?
     Hope Harbor police chief and single mom Lexie Graham has zero time for extracurricular activities - including romance.  Ex-con Adam Stone isn't looking for love either - but how ironic is it that the first woman to catch his eye is a police chief?  When Lexie enlists Adam's help to keep a troubled young man from heading down the wrong path, sparks begin to fly.  Could it be that God may have a different - and better -  future planned for them than either could image?  Lauded by Literary Journal as "as master at character development," Irene Hannon welcomes you back to this charming Oregon seaside village.

REVIEW:  Irene Hannon did another great job with Lexie and Adam's story.  I like how both overcome many obstacles and stereotypes to just enjoy each other's company.  Adam's willingness to step out of his comfort zone, face his past and help a young man turn his life around while he still has a chance was inspiring. I like how, with Adam's advice and guidance, Lexie is able to face a painful part of her past and forgive herself.  I also like how, when faced with heresay and conjecture about Adam and the work he is doing with Brian, Lexie stands up for what is right and publicly supports Adam. 
     This is an excellent story and have really enjoyed this series.  This book, as with the others in this series, is an excellent stand alone.  I would encourage you to read the others, even though they only briefly refer to the main character of the other novels.  They will give you a better feel for Hope Harbor and its residents.  From what I understand, Ms. Hannon will write more set in this small town.  If she does, I so look forward to reading them.

This book was provided by Revell for review without any compensation.

Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels, including One Perfect Spring, Hope Harbor, Sea Rose Lane, and the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series.  Her books have garnered dozen of honors, including three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America.  She is also a member of RWA's elite Hall of Fame.  In addition, she has received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews for her entire body of work.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pursued Book Review

The Nikki Boyd Files
Book Three

SUMMARY:  Nikki Boyd's flight into Nashville was routine - until the CRASH LANDING at the airport.
     When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing - and no one will admit she was ever there.  When she learns that Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial, Nikki wonders if her disappearance from the crash site means she's running from trouble - or straight into it.  Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.
     Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris has planted danger around every turn in this can't-put-it-down thrill ride that will leave you stunned.

REVIEW:  As the summary says, this story will have your head spinning with everything that happens.  Nikki goes from one jaw-dropping event to another so quickly it's hard to catch your breath.  Considering this whole story happens in just 48 hours, it's a lot to take in and process.  It's a good story.  I enjoyed everything I read, but so much happens to Nikki, it's really hard to take in.  After a while, I started to wonder just what else could she go through and just how much more she could take, especially since she was running on very little sleep and very little to eat.  Good thing this is just fiction and not real life so someone would be needing a lot of therapy.
     This is the third book in this series.  It can stand alone but it so much better if you read the other ones.  The ending was good.  I'm pretty sure this is the end of the series.  If it is, too bad.  I would really like to see how Nikki and Tyler's relationship plays out.  It would also be neat to see if she gets more information about her lost sister, and maybe even find her.
     If you are interested in reading a book that will hold your attention and take you on a wild ride, you need to pick this one up.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

This book was provided by Revell for review without any compensation.

Lisa Harris is a bestselling author, a Christy Award winner, and the winner of the Best Inspirational Suspense Novel for 2011 and 2015 from Romantic Times for her novels Blood Covenant and Vendetta.  The author of nearly thirty books, including Vendetta, Missing, and the SOUTHERN CRIMES series, Harris and her family have spent more then thirteen years living as missionaries in southern Africa.  Learn more at www.lisaharriswrites.com.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Still Life Book Review

Chesapeake Valor Series
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Someone is out there.  Watching her.  Waiting.
     Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime-scene photographer.  She expected to be laughed at, but crime-scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright - and changed her life.  But six months ago, when he feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.
     Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejeced her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit for which her friend modeled.  But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead - and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot.  Worse, her friend can't be found, and so Avery immediately calls Parker for help.
     As Avery, Parker, and their friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

REVIEW:  This book had a lot going on, which was sometimes distracting and hard to follow.  Not having read the first book, I wondered if parts of Parker and Avery's relationship was covered in it because it felt like I was coming in from behind.  Then, their friends all had something going on - finding very slim evidence of a friend that disappeared many years ago, an upcoming marriage, a potential relationship between a couple of characters - which just added to my befuddlement at times.  Also, there were two different matters going on in regards to Avery's friend that disappeared that made it difficult at times to figure out who did what within the timeline and keep everything straight.  
     That said, the story was very engaging but darker than anything else I've read by this author.  The villain was very creepy and disturbing.  His actions were even creepier.  I like how Avery was determined to do everything possible to find Skyler, even if it meant going places and seeing people from her dysfunctional past that she had left behind years earlier.  I like how Parker saw Avery for who she was now, not her actions in the past.  Though he struggled with memories of his deceased girlfriend, he is determined not to let it affect the present and his attraction to Avery.  
     This was a good book.  As I mentioned, the story was darker and more menacing than other novels by this author but I am looking forward to reading the others as they come out, and, one day, the first one.

This book was provided by Bethany House for review without any compensation.

Dani Pettrey is the acclaimed author of the ALASKAN COURAGE romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, Silenced, and Sabotaged.  Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers' Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing's Best Award, among others.  She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and two super adorable grandsons.  You can find her online at www.danipettrey.com