Sunday, January 31, 2016

Review of Thin Ice by Irene Hannon

Nutshell: Book 2 in the Men of Valor Series: Christy Reed has no family left. Losing her parents in a freak car accident nine months ago, and now her sister in a deadly house fire months ago. She's on the path of healing, until one day her world flips upside down. A letter and picture from her dead sister. Someone is playing with her in a very sinister way. Enter FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor. He has demons of his own that he is wrestling with while he takes on his very first case as an FBI agent. And his first case of Christy Reed pushes him to his limits with frustration, with unknown answers and with his heart. Will they hunt down the so called "kidnapper" before his sinister hunting catches Christy first?

Pro's: Great book! This can be read as a stand-alone in the series even though it is the 2nd book. Good plot, gets you sucked in from the beginning.

Con's: One scene did not quite add up based on the immobilization of the character. It didn't make sense how the grandma was able to do what she did after she wrote the letter (may seem cryptic, but I don't want to spoil the plot!) with hardly being able to walk. Other than that, a bit heart-gooey, but not over the top.

Recommendation: If you like mystery suspense, this is the book for you!

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Holding on to the sliver

Reviews galore, but nothing more.

I've been rattling around thoughts in my brain and thinking I need to get things recorded.

You know how a new year brings new hope? New goals? Dreams that may come true this year?

Here we are, 23 days in to the new year and it is not going how I thought.

Hopes feel dashed, dreams feel squashed, goals are out the window. All need to be rewritten. They need to include issues like

breast cancer.

possible colon cancer.



blood clots.



unexplained seizures.


All of the above are happening in my family. My immediate family. Not cousins. Not aunts. Not extended family. Those I hold close.

Many of the above diagnoses we found out in the past 23 days.

How does one hold these? How does one hold on to hope through all of these? How do I encourage my brothers? My sister-in-laws? My mother-in-law? My parents? My husband? My kids?

This is where I find myself. Needing to re-examine everything.

It can be extremely overwhelming if I let all thoughts run loosey-goosey. If I let emotions overtake all common sense.

I find the sliver of hope in Jesus and I have to cling to Him. He keeps me breathing through every diagnosis. Every doctor appointment. Every time I think, "how can things possibly get worse?" and they end up getting worse.

I continue to cling. It's the only choice.

Review of A Cup of Dust by Susie Finkbeiner

Nutshell: Little Pearl Spence makes the best of the life she has. She watches over her older sister, enjoys stories from her grandma and loves her family and the town she lives in. Despite living in a time where dust storms come and go, where food is rationed and seeing her best friend struggle, she lives life as best she can with what is thrown at her. Strangers come and go through the town, but she knows she is safe with her daddy being the sheriff. But one such stranger doesn't make her feel right. Follow Pearl as life as she knows it will change because of the dust, because of grief, because of this strange man.

Pro's: Another great book by Susie! You could feel the grit of dust in your mouth, on your hands, rubbing on your feet. Susie does a spectacular job reliving the Dust Bowl years that hit our country hard. She used fiction to give raw imagery to what life may have been like for those living through this horrific time. Her artwork of words sculpts this book in to one you will not want to put down.

Con's: None!

Recommendation: If you enjoy historical fiction, pick up this book to read today! Even if you just like a good book to read, this is it!!

Opinions expressed are my own.

Review of You're the One That I Want by Susan May Warren

Nutshell: A former NHL hockey player, Owen Christiansen, finds himself in Alaska, working on a crabbing boat as far from home as possible. His boss and second in command, Scotty McFlynn, keeps to herself with a locked up heart that no one can penetrate. Circumstances thrust the two in to a life threatening situation where raw emotions are exposed and revelations come to light. But the past crashes in when Owen's brother comes looking for him. Owen and Scotty find themselves back in Minnesota as the prodigal son returns after being "missing" for months. Walk with Owen and Scotty as they learn what it means to be a children of God and what faith looks like when life is throwing rocks at you.

Pro's: This is the last book in the Christiansen Series and the first one that I have read. It was actually easy to jump in to and understand despite not reading any of the previous books. I enjoyed the plot and the ease of how the book read.

Con's: Lots of romance for my taste. Could have toned it down some.

Recommendation: If you like romantic faith fiction, you will enjoy this book.

Tyndale House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Review of Step by Step by Candace Calvert

Nutshell: Taylor Cabot is an ER nurse who is ready to move on from her past. With her survival list in hand, she's out to cross every single item off the list to feel like she is ready to walk forward with her life. With a new job, in a new city, she jumps in to the career she loves. She is starting to slowly pull away from the volunteer crisis team she volunteers on as she wants to put herself at a distance from Seth Donovan, the chaplain of the team and a good friend of her late husband. Journey with her as she learns of God's love and what it means and looks like to move on. This is the 2nd book in the Crisis Team Series.

Pro's: Action from the beginning that helps you jump right in. Good story line. Stand-alone book even though it is the 2nd in the series.

Con's: One thing I noticed right away is that there are a lot of thoughts/conversations by the characters where the sentences don't finish. At first it didn't bother me, but as the book continued, it was something that happened throughout the book and personally, it was hard to stay captivated and interested in the story when sentences/thought processes are not complete.

Recommendation: If you enjoy medical stories with some action thrown in, you will enjoy this book.

Tenderly House Publishers sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Review of Whatever Is Lovely by Waterbrook Press

Nutshell: Kids love to color, and I think adults (deep down) love it too! Adult coloring books are all the rage right now. Intricate detailed pictures that take fine motor skills to a new level. You will find all different types of adult coloring books out there, and this one takes coloring beyond just the colored pencils. In this book you will find not only beautiful art to color, but verses to meditate on. The idea behind it is that while you are creating beauty, you are thinking on the One who created beauty. You are meditating on the One who breathed life, who breathed scripture. You are listening to God. What better way to find quiet than to color and listen to Jesus?

Pro's: I love this idea. I love that God's word is woven in to picture format to create beauty from beauty. The introduction was very helpful and including a spotify playlist to listen to while coloring? Genius! I took it one step further and found other scripture surrounding the verse and wrote it on the page to think on as well.

 Con's: I found I can only do one thing at a time! I couldn't listen to music and focus on the verse at the same time. My brain could only manage one or the other. Not a negative to the book at all, just my own personal findings. :)

Recommendation: You don't have to be an artist to do this. No one is ever to old to color! My 11 year old daughter saw this and ended up with one for Christmas! What a great gift to give, or to give yourself!

Would you like to buy this book? Click here to be directed to the site.

WaterBrook Multnomah sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions (and coloring) are my own.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Review of Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden

Nutshell: Sophie van Riijn has had her share of heartbreaks throughout her life. But she has pressed forward and her faith in God keeps her living each day. Her life revolves around documenting the weather for the United States Weather Bureau and living a simple life. Her sacred weather station sits on the roof of the haunted mansion that no one has inhabited in over 60 years....until one day the owners show up to retake the mansion and the mysteriously magical land it sits on. Sophie comes to butt heads with the infamous Vandermark owner, Quentin, but quickly falls in love with his young 9 year old son who she is allowed to teach. How can she teach the owners son, try to save the house she loves from being blown up and still show love to a very hard-hearted man?

Pro's: A very sweet, tender story that shows killing with kindness to the most cold-hearted people can eventually soften anyone. A very descriptive story! You could almost smell the water lily's fragrance, feel the oysters sliding down your throat and see the carvings on the original cabin. I'm glad it didn't end where I thought it was going to end!!

Con's: A bit slow in places but overall it did keep you engaged.

Recommendation: If you enjoy historical fiction, you will enjoy this book!

Bethany House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Review of Michael Symon's 5 in 5 for Every Season Cookbook

Nutshell: One of the co-hosts of ABC's The Chew has a new cookbook out! Michael Symon's has paired beautiful pictures with quick recipes in his new cookbook 5 in 5: 5 fresh ingredients and 5 minutes of heat. Each season of the year is featured in this book that include ingredients privy to that season. Each recipe in turn is quick to fix and on your table in a matter of minutes. You will find over 100 recipes in this packed cookbook with something to please everyone's pallet.

Pro's: The pictures! I'm a very visual person and the pictures definitely caught my eye right away. I love to cook and was excited to try this book. I poured over each recipe and read through the book a couple times, ear-marking recipes I wanted to try. I also enjoyed the little intersects of personal tidbits through the book about his life growing up and memories/places related to recipes.

Con's: As with any cookbook, not every single recipe will be a keeper. There were some recipes I knew I needed to skip over either due to cost, the items not being available in our area, or knowing my kids would eat one bite and be done.

Recommendation: If you are a fan of Michael Symon's, you will like this book. Great pictures, easy recipes for the beginner chef to intermediate/brave chef who is up for a challenge.

The recipe I tried was in the Spring section and was titled Pork with Broccoli and Cashews.

1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced 1/8 inch think
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups broccoli florets (from 1/2 large head)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cashews
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cornstarch

1. Put a large skillet over high heat. Season both sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan. Add the pork in an even layer and cook, without moving, for 1 minute. Flip the pork and add the broccoli to the pan. Continue cooking until the pork and broccoli begin to brown, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cashews, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another minute.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, mustard, 2 tablespoons water, and the cornstarch.

3. Add the cornstarch mixture to the pan, over, and cook for 1 minute until the sauce thickens. Serve hot.

Adjustments I made: I did not add red pepper flakes due to sensitive taste buds in the house. I added the cashews as a side as not all members under our roof enjoy nuts.

*Outcome: I would make it again (my kids loved it) and would use a higher quality soy sauce as it was pretty salty even with the low sodium brand I used. I will add more broccoli next time as our youngest went back for seconds and I heard "ahhh...never mind...I wanted more broccoli" (words to a mother's ears!). I almost missed the w2 tablespoons of water in step 2 as water wasn't one of the ingredients up top and it caught me off guard a bit.

WaterbrookMultnomah sent me this complimentary book to review for them. Opinions expressed are
my own.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Review of Vendetta by Lisa Harris

Nutshell: This is book one in the Nikki Boyd Files series. Nikki Boyd is in charge of her first case on the Tennessee Missing Persons Task Force. A teenage girl has come up missing after leaving her cabin to go on a walk. When Detective Boyd finds out she had been chatting on-line with a boy of whom she was secretly going to meet, and that boy wasn't who he says he was, the case takes on the form of an abduction. When clues start surfacing that mimic the abduction of her still-missing sister from 10 years ago, Nikki's mission now becomes personal. Will this case lead her to the answers she has been searching for surrounding her missing sister?

Pro's: I enjoyed how the author kept you guessing throughout this book. It made it that much more appealing to read all the way to the end. It wasn't excessively over-the-top bloody and gory which is nice, especially if you're reading before going to sleep! Good plot and story-line.

Con's: Even though this was the first book in the series, I felt like I should've known who the main characters were. They way they were introduced throughout the book left me a little puzzled as to where they came from. It took a bit in to the book to learn back stories before feeling like they all made sense in my head.

Recommendation: If you enjoy mystery suspense, then you may enjoy this book. I've enjoyed previous books by Lisa Harris and you may as well if you like this book.

Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are mine alone.