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?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Flight of Fancy Book Review

The Daughters of Bainbridge House
Book #2

SUMMARY:  Her head is in the clouds.  His feet are planted firmly on the ground.  Can love cover the distance?.
     Cassandra Bainbridge may be a bit of a bluestocking, but when Geoffrey Giles is near, love seems a fine alternative to passion for Greek and the physics of flight.  With his dashing good looks and undying devotion to her, the earl of Whittaker sets Cassandra's heart racing with his very presence.  It seems his only flaw is his distaste for ballooning, the obsession that consumes so much of her thoughts.
     When a terrible accident compels her to end her betrothal, Cassandra heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broke heart.  With time on her hands and good friends to help her, she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut.  But when Lord Whittaker slips back into her life, will have to choose between him and her dream?

REVIEW:  This is the second book in the Daughters of Bainbridge House series.  You do not need to read the first book to understand this storyline, unless you want some background information of Cassandra and Geoffrey and the family.  
     My heart went out to Cassandra after her terrible accident, having to suffer the way she did and not being able to tell her fiance' the extent of the problem.  Geoffrey won my admiration by not giving up on Cassandra after she broke off their engagement but supporting her in every way, even going up with her in her beloved balloon to protect her when her life is threatened.  I also liked how Geoffrey tried to understand the frustrations of the loom mill workers and trying to come up with a solution the workers and owners could all agree on.  This book is superb.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Laurie Alice Eakes is the author of the Midwives series, A Necessary Deception, and several other novels.  She won a National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007 for Family Guardian.  Laurie Alice writes full-time from her home in Texas, where she lives with her husband and sundry dogs and cats.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Fantasy Fallacy Book Review

A Response to the Fifty Shades of Grey Phenomenon
Exposing the Deeper Meaning Behind Sexual Thoughts

SUMMARY:  Erotica has invaded more than our minds - it has exploded onto our bestseller lists and into our bedrooms.  
     Many are looking to sexual and emotional fantasies as avenues to fulfillment.  Our fantasies, however, are not reliable guides into the future - they are actually rocky road maps from our past.  Best-selling author Shannon Ethridge theorizes, "Fantasies are simply he brain's way of trying to heal itself from unresolved tragedies and traumas.  We mentally compartmentalize our pain to make room for pleasure."
     Fantasies have deep psychological roots, and if acted on many of them can do deep psychological damage.  Rather than let fantasies rule us, let's take out the sting and bring them under God's rule, allowing the Lord to heal us from the brokenness and insecurities that cause inappropriate fantasies to haunt us.
     Without being judgemental or condemning, Shannon helps us dissect several common and often-disturbing topics, such as:
  • a distorted fascination with pornography
  • the mental pursuit of multiple partners
  • bondage, domination, and sadomasochism (BDSM)
     With tips for controlling unwanted fantasies and resources for providing a safe haven for recovery, The Fantasy Fallacy helps us recognize and heal our emotional pain and equips us to help others do the same.

REVIEW:  This was an interesting and very different book.  Shannon does not shy away from any topic.  She faces it head-on, bringing understanding to difficult subjects we like to keep hidden away and avoid, discussing them in length and bringing it out into the light.  Shannon includes the research studies, material, books she used and counseling sessions she has been in herself and ones she has led to help others to help bring understanding to these formidable subjects.  Also included in the Appendixes are lies we tell ourselves to justify our behavior and ways to combat them; help for curing the sexual abuse epidemic with information on what to look for, discussions to have with our kids and resource information for help; resources for those looking for guidance, encouragement and support for sexually broken people; twelve steps to recovery; and recommended resources for your personal library or for your church's.

This book was provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers (Booksneeze) for review without compensation.

Shannon Ethridge is an international speaker and certified life coach.  she has a master's degree in counseling/human relations from Liberty University and is the author of the million-copy best-selling Every Woman's Battle series.  Learn more at

Hot Button Books Book Review

SUMMARY:  Nicole O'Dell helps address the Hot Buttons in teens' lives before the issues become problems.
     From dating to drugs, modesty to purity, morals to popularity, teens face all sorts of tough issues. How teens respond to these hot-button issues can have lasting effects on who they want to be and who they actually become. What if parents can help their teens prepare for these hot buttons-before the issues become a problem?
     The uniquely packaged Hot Buttons Series is an accessible, quick-reference resource that parents can use to equip their children to make the right decisions, even in the face of peer pressure and outside influences. More than just another how-to manual, Hot Button Dating Edition offers practical real-life situations that parents can read and discuss with their preteens. Topics include: physical activity, missionary dating, and violence/abuse in dating relationships. 
     Author, mom, and broadcaster, Nicole O'Dell provides short scenarios followed by three or four responses that a teen might choose in that particular situation. Parents are then encouraged to help their children explore the issue, ask questions, and discuss the options, so when a similar situation comes up in real life, the teens are already prepared to respond.

Hot Buttons Dating Edition offers practical real-life situations that parents can read and discuss with their preteens. Topics include: physical activity, missionary dating, and violence/abuse in dating relationships.
Hot Buttons Internet Edition helps parents prepare their teens for online challenges they may face. Topics discussed include: internet activity, file sharing, social networking, and internet predators.
Hot Buttons Drug Edition braves the scary world of substance abuse, equipping parents with facts, warning signs, and real-world scenarios on: alcohol; Marijuana and other drugs; inhalants; and prescription drugs.
Hot Buttons Sexuality Edition offers the facts about teen sexuality, backed by statistics; specifics for how to talk frankly about sex with your kids, discussion about the growth of homosexuality and bisexuality among teens; and compassionate advice for guiding your teen to reclaim purity.

Link to buy books:

REVIEW:  These books should be a MUST READ for parents with kids of all ages.  Laid out in an easy-to-read format, the author provides information, direction, scripture, and examples to help you navigate through the dangerous areas of modern life.  One of my favorite parts of the books is the "Scenerios" section.  Here, she gives scenarios to discuss with your child(ren) that covers different situations they could encounter with some possible solutions/directions.  They are designed to help your child figure out beforehand what they would do if they are faced with that particular situation and for you to help guide them in the best possible answer.  Mrs. O'Dell also provides a parent-teen study guide for each book, resources to use if you are faced with difficult situations, and a reference guide for the research she used.  These are some great books that will help me and my husband as we help our children navigate the difficulties of being a teenage and give us easy-to-follow directions to open conversational doors.

These books were provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation. 

Nicole O'Dell is a mom of six; founder of Choose NOW Ministries; host of Teen Talk Radio and Parent Talk Radio; and the author of more than a dozen books, including the popular Scenarios for Girls interactive fiction series.

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Light in the Window E-book Review

SUMMARY:  One Woman. Two Men.  One stirs her pulse and the other her faith.  But who will win her heart?
     Marceline Murphy is a gentle beauty with a well-founded aversion to rogues. But when two of Boston's most notorious pursue her, she encounters a tug-of-war of the heart she isn’t expecting. Sam O’Rourke is the childhood hero she’s pined for, the brother of her best friend and a member of the large, boisterous family to which she longs to be a part. So when his best friend Patrick O’Connor joins in pursuit of her affections, the choice seems all too clear. Sam is from a family of faith and Patrick is not, two rogues whose wild ways clash head-on with Marcy’s—both in her faith and in her heart.
     While overseeing the Christmas play fundraiser for the St. Mary’s parish soup kitchen—A Light in the Window—Marcy not only wrestles with her attraction to both men, but with her concern for their spiritual welfare. The play is based on the Irish custom of placing a candle in the window on Christmas Eve to welcome the Holy Family, and for Marcy, its message becomes deeply personal. Her grandmother Mima cautions her to guard her heart for the type of man who will respond to the "light in the window," meaning the message of Christ in her heart. But when disaster strikes during the play, Marcy is destined to discover the truth of the play’s message first-hand when it becomes clear that although two men have professed their undying love, only one has truly responded to “the light in the window.”

REVIEW:   This book is a prequel to Julie's series about the O'Connor family.  Having read a few of the later books in the series, it was great getting to see how the family got started.  One of my favorite developments was how Marcy's strong faith helped Patrick change his character, rise above his circumstances and become a better person.  Her faith also helps guide her in many decision making situations and helps her to not give up when things start looking bleak.  This is a great book that is worth checking out.

This e-book was provided by Julie Lessman for review without compensation.

 Julie Lessman is the popular author of A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied, as well as A Hope Undaunted,  which was one of 2010's Booklist Top Ten Inspirational Fiction winners, and A Hope Revealed.  Lessman has garnered several writing awards, including fourteen Romance Writers of America Awards, and was chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards.  She lives in Missouri. You can contact Julie through her website at


Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Promise to Love Book Review

SUMMARY:  Can a marriage of convenience ever become one of true love?
      Ingrid Larson arrives in Michigan in 1871 with little more than the clothes on her back and a determination to find her brother, who has disappeared into the dangerous lumber camps.  Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, the young Swedish immigrant crosses paths with Joshua Hunter, a newly widowed farmer with eyes the color of the ocean she had crossed and five rambunctious children to raise on his own.
     Marriage would solve both of their problems, and Ingrid finds herself proposing in broken English to a man she barely knows.  Many difficulties lie ahead - but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband.

SUMMARY:  Serena Miller wrote an excellent and awe-inspiring story based on her grandmother's story when she came to America.  Ingrid is like no other character I've read about before.  She is strong, determined, has a very strong faith and loves with everything she has.  When she sees a problem, she tries to figure out the best solution and does everything she can to complete it to absolute best of her abilities.  She can take a minimal amount of food and create a feast.  When her step-daughter needs a new dress, she fashions a new one out of an old dress that belongs to the girl's deceased mother.  When Joshua's brother drops their elderly mother off on their porch just a short time at their marriage, Ingrid doesn't complain at all.  Instead, she does everything she can to make Mary feel at home and to help her adjust to her new surroundings.  She loves her new children with her whole heart and does what she can to help the girls have positive memories of their mom Diantha, even when she learns the absolute worst about her from her own hand.  Ingrid's faith is very strong and I love how she uses it to get her through some very difficult situations.  Her strong will serves her well in many ways and in many settings.  Ingrid is the type of woman I want to be when I grow up.  She is awesome!! 

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Serena B. Miller is the author of The Measure of Katie Calloway as well as numerous articles.  She lives on a farm in southern OhioMeet Serena B. Miller on her website at

A Farmer's Daughter Cookbook Review

Recipes from a Mennonite Kitchen

SUMMARY:  Over 200 mouthwatering recipes - fresh from the farm
     I'm Dawn Stolzfus.  Welcome to my kitchen!  I was raised on a Mennonite farm where simple, wholesome food was a key ingredient of the good life.  Now I'm opening up my recipe box,wiping away the crumbs and wrinkles from the well-loved recipe cards, and sharing them with you.  From Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls and Strawberry Shortcake to Old-Fashioned Beef Stew and Chicken and Herb Dumplings, all the best comfort food I learned to cook from my mother are here, along with some dishes that may surprise you!
     In addition to the simple, wholesome recipes for starters, main dishes, sides, and desserts, I share favorite stories from my Mennonite upbringing, tips and tricks for easy meal planning and preparation, and ideas for serving with flair.
     If you enjoy feeding your family hearty, wholesome meals made with fresh ingredients and lots of love, please join me in the kitchen!

REVIEW:  I love cookbooks and this looks to become one of my favorites.  The recipes are ones that sound delicious and look like they might be relatively easy to make.  There are quite a few I've marked for future meals.
     One of the recipes included was one to make your own cream of chicken (celery or mushroom) soup from scratch.  Since I am always looking for ways to make my family's meals healthier, this is one I wanted to check it out, especially since I needed a can of cream of chicken soup for my recent casserole dish. The recipe was easy to follow and tasted really good, even though I left out some of the seasonings.  It has since been added to my mix.

Cream of Celery, Chicken, or Mushroom Soup
2 cups powdered milk
3 tbsp reduced sodium chicken bouillon
3 tbsp onion flakes
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
2 tbsp diced celery (or 1/2 cup freeze-dried 
mushrooms or chopped cooked chicken)

Mix together all ingredients except celery, mushrooms, or chicken, and store in an airtight container.  This makes a bulk version, so tape the instructions on your container so they'll be easily accessible when the time comes.
     To make the equivalent of one can of cream soup:  mix 1/3 cup dry soup with 1 1/4 cups water.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat and cook for 3-4 minutes or until thickened.  Add celery, mushrooms, or chicken.  Stir constantly so that soup will not burn or stick to bottom of pan.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Dawn Stoltzfus is a wife, a mother of two sweet little boys and one precious baby girl, and a lover of anything creative.  She started and ran The Farmer's Wife market until 2008, when she sold it in order to stay at home to raise her family.  She loves to cook, for one or three hundred.  Her love of cooking was inspired by her mother and developed as she cooked for her family of six on their active, working dairy farm in Ohio.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Twice Promised Book Review

The Blue Willow Brides
Book Two

SUMMARY:  Two beautiful brides.  One unsuspecting groom.  Three weeks to figure it all out.
     Greta Olen arrives in Central City, Colorado, as a mail-order bride, expecting to marry Jess Gifford, the man she's come to know through his tender letters.  But when she meets Cora Johnson, she discovers she's not the only bride waiting at the train station for Jess.
     Already shocked to find they must compete for Jess's affection, the young women can hardly believe it when not Jess but his brother Zach picks them up from the station - and reveals that Jess knows nothing about any mail-order bride, let alone two.  Will either bride make the match she hopes for?
     Filled with surprises, misunderstandings, and tender romance, Twice Promised is the story of how two unlikely women become twice blessed.

REVIEW:  This is a great book.  The story of two mail-order brides for the same man is something I wondered if it occurred and how it would play out.  I like how Greta and Cora become friends and, instead of competing against each other, they work together to help Jess and Zach in the family store.  After the decision is made as to who is marrying whom, something in Greta's past comes out and some decisions are questioned but the girls never get jealous of each other nor do they become petty towards each other.  They remain close friends.  I love this type of friendship.  I also like how the author ties in Greta's former fiance' as a brother of Jess and Zach.
     Even though this is the second book in the series, you do not need to read the first one.  There are a few brief references to Catharine and Peter, who the first book centered on, but they are not critical to this story.  This is a great series and a great book.

This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.

Available October 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Maggie Brendan is the author of the Heart of the West series and Deeply Devoted.  A member of the Authors Guild, Romance Writers of America, and Georgia Romance Writers, Maggie lives in Georgia.  Visit her at

Thursday, October 11, 2012

You Don't Know Me Book Review

A Deep Haven Novel

SUMMARY:  The secret she's kept to protect her family could be the very thing that tears them apart.
     To all who know her, Annalise Decker is a model wife and mother.  She's a permanent member of the PTA, never misses a sporting event, and is constantly campaigning for her husband's mayoral race.
    No one knows that Annalise was once Deidre O'Reilly, a troubled young woman whose testimony put a dangerous criminal behind bars.  Relocated through the Witness Security Program to the quaint harbor town of Deep Haven, Deidre received a new identity and a fresh start, which began when she fell in love with local real estate agent Nathan Decker.
     Twenty years later, Annalise couldn't be more unprepared for her past to find her.  When Agent Frank Harrison arrives with news that the man she testified against is out on parole and bend on revenge, Annalise must face the consequences of her secrets.  Will she run again, or will she find the courage to trust those she loves most with both her past and her future?

REVIEW:  Secrets.  Everyone around Annalise has them.  Her husband Nathan is hiding the amount of money he borrows for his campaign.  Daughter Colleen hides her impulses to stop being a "good girl" by dating a former troublemaker and trying to push the limits with him.  Frank, Annalise's handler, hides his true identity from Annalise's family, and has regrets when he starts to fall for her mother-in-law Helen.  Son Jason hides his getting the leading role in the school play from his father but is also hiding some disreputable actions behind an honorable reputation.  Helen is hiding problems with her health from her son because she doesn't want him or Annalise to worry.
     I really liked this book.  I was pulled into the story because Annalise could be anyone I know.  She struggles about whether or not to tell her husband and family about her past but doesn't want to cause them any undue stress.  As Annalise's story comes out, her family is forced to confront the other secrets that abound around them.  It is just another reminder to keep being honest with the people we love and to stop keeping secrets.  All it does is cause more problems instead of prevent them.  I really like the Deep Haven novels and how they are independent but overlap in small ways to keep the "town" real.  This book, as well as the series, are a great read.

This book was provided by Litfuse Publicity Group for review without compensation.
Susan May Warren is the RITA Award-winning author of more than thirty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike.  She spent eight years as a missionary in Russia with her husband and four children before returning to Minnesota's north shore to write full-time.  Visit her website at

When A Heart Stops Book Review

Deadly Reunions Series
Book 2

SUMMARY:  A killer's deadly game needs new players ... but someone's about to change the rules.
     As a medical examiner, Serena Hopkins is used to dealing with death.  But that doesn't make it any easier when she's called to the eerie scene of a murder - especially when Serena realized that she knows the victim.  Nearly as unnerving is the presence of FBI agent Dominic Allen, her childhood crush.
     As evidence mounts and points to a serial killer with disturbingly familiar methods, Serena and Dominic must work to find a pattern and stop the killings before the murderer strikes again.  And when Serena's own life seems at stake, she must decided if the secret she has been keeping has put her next on the killer's hit list.  Can she trust Dominic with the truth before it's too late?

REVIEW:  When A Heart Stops is the follow-up to When the Smoke Clears.  This is important because to fully understand every part of the book, you need to read the first book.  There are two stories running at the same time:  Serena's investigation into the murders of a possible serial killer and the underlying story of the search for Jillian and trying to find out whatever it was she saw graduation night.
     That said, the story is a good one.  The murders by the possible serial killer hit mimic ones that occurred many years ago but the person convicted is still behind bars.  Serena is a wonderful character.  When she is targeted by the killer, she is not afraid to ask for help from her friends and co-workers.  She also is very protective of her friend Jillian and her secret.  Serena keeps a package sent to her from Jillian hidden and doesn't even open it even though it may cost Serena her life.  The ending of the book has a lot of twists and turns and keeps you on your toes. 
    This is a great book.  I can't wait for the third book to come out.
This book was provided by Revell for review without compensation.
 Available October 2012  at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Lynette Eason is the author of several romantic suspense novels, including the Women of Justice series and When the Smoke Clears.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.  A wife and the mother of two, she has a master's degree in education and lives in South Carolina.