Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review of Better All the Time by Carre Armstrong Gardner

Nutshell: This is book 2 in The Darlings Series which focuses on a different Darling sibling, Sephy, with snippits along the way about the other Darling siblings. Speedy is on a journey of finding her inner self and how hard change can be. Outwardly and inwardly. The secondary Darling sibling during this book is Amy and her experience with a full time job that demands a lot to the point of her learning that it is ok to let things go.

Pro's: It was easy to pick up where the 1st book left off and the flow between the two books was flawless. The story line kept the reader engaged up until the end.

Con's: It would have been nice if there was more focus on Sephy and Amy rather than jumping around to everyone in the family. It felt choppy in places going from one person to another, to another, to another within a chapter. It seemed more of several smaller story lines throughout rather than one to two major story lines. One sibling seemed to have dropped out of the story all together in the later 1/3 of the book.

Recommendation: I would recommend reading the 1st book before reading this one to better understand the characters. Picking up the 2nd book on its own may be a bit confusing to figure out the back story of what is happening with this family.

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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review of Where Rivers Part by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Nutshell: Dr. Juliet Ryan is a well known scientist and has quite the lucrative, yet weighty job, at a bottled water company where she makes sure the water is safe. Her biggest thorn in her side in the scientific community is none other than her own father. When her life begins to unravel both in her family and in her job, she seeks out her father to help her through the murky waters.

Pro's: A very well written story in Gilbert's Texas Gold Collection. A story about finding oneself, finding God, and finding out family runs thicker than water. I was anticipating this to be a more fluff book, but was greatly surprised that the romance aspect was low, the fluff was not present, and it was not so overly spiritual where you wanted to skip the "churchy" parts. An excellent story with deep roots running through it to keep you reading. You also do not need to read the 1st book in this collection as this is truly a stand alone novel.

Con's: None other than having to wait until her next book comes out!

Recommendation: If you are looking for a story with a bit more depth and meat to it, this one is for you!

Reveal Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. The opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Review of Hidden Agenda by Lisa Harris

Nutshell: Undercover cop, Michael Hunt is alive!! In book 3 of the Southern Crime Series, follow Michael as he narrowly escapes death by the least expected rescuer. Through twists and turns, the final book in the series wraps up the story of the Hunt family. Bombs, guns, fires and car chases are just a few of the encounters Michael and his rescuers face in the race for truth and justice.

Pro's: A fast read! Not because it's easy, but because you want to know what happens next! A thrilling mysterious suspense that keeps you turning the pages.

Con's: I was a little disappointed at the ending as it seemed anti-climatic compared to the rest of the book.

Recommendation: If you didn't read the first two books, no need to worry! You can easily pick up this book and read it without knowing any back story. If you like thrilling suspense, this is the book, and series for you!

Revell Books sent me a complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Review of Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh

Nutshell: Meet Abigail, great-great granddaughter of the founders of the town Loves Park. Loves Park celebrates everything love. And this story revolves around Abigail and how she does not want to have anything to do with love. With her past deeply rooted in heart break and her future about to be shattered to pieces with her new business landlord, Abigail is confronted with where her heart may take her or stay in the same place she's always been stuck. A very sweet love story of two very unsuspecting people who need each other.

Pro's: I loved this book. Such a tender hearted, sweet story, with characters who were easy to love. The weaving of God's love intertwined with how love can happen to imperfect people.

Con's: None. It was a perfect Valentines Day story!

Recommendation: If you enjoy sweet stories filled with tender emotions, this one is for you!

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Review of Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta

The nutshell: Having finally discovered the truth of her birthright, Julia Elliston is determined to outwit Chance Macy at his own game. Holding a secret he'd kill to keep, however, is proving more difficult than she imagined.Just when Julia thinks she's managed to untangle herself from Macy's clutches, he changes tactics with a risky ploy. As the scandal of the century breaks loose, drawing rooms all over London whisper what so far newspapers have not dared to print: Macy's lost bride is none other than Lord Pierson's daughter--and one of the most controversial cases of marital law ever seen comes before Victorian courts.Though Julia knows Macy's version of events is another masterful manipulation, public opinion is swaying in his favor. Caught in a web of deceit and lies, armed only with a fledgling faith, Julia must face her fiercest trial yet. 

Pro's: The author does a fine job in her writing style and uses many descriptive words that transport you to the time of Julia Elliston.

Con's: I should have researched this before reviewing it as I was not aware that it was book 3 in a trilogy series. I have a very hard time figuring out what was happening. The book picks up where I'm guessing book two left off so I was coming into the middle of a developed story and felt like, as a new reader, it was all over the place. But for someone who has read the previous two books, it would make complete sense.

Recommendation: I would strongly encourage anyone to read the first two books before picking up this one. It would serve you well in understanding the story line.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with this complimentary book to review for them. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Review of The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka

The nutshell: Gina Homolka puts together a cookbook that has you cooking more healthy. The subtitle is: light on calories, big on flavor. An assortment of recipes ranging from appetizers to sandwiches to meat, poultry and fish dishes to veggies. Her introduction helps you learn how to navigate through her cookbook and gives you tips as to what to look for. Some recipes are dairy free, some gluten free, some veggie only. With freezer friendly and slow cooker recipes included, this cookbook covers everything you can think of.

Pro's: I love the pictures. I'm a lover of cookbooks and I love pictures. Being a visual learner, it's what my eye goes to first. I find I skip over recipes that don't have pictures and am drawn to the recipes that do have the pictures. The pictures in this cookbook are vibrant and eye catching.

Con's: As in any cookbook, there are recipes I wouldn't necessarily make. Some I am turned away from as I am cooking for a teenager and a pre-teen and I know they wouldn't eat muscles or seafood stew.

Recommendation: I'm enjoying this cookbook now that my husband and I are counting calories and with it being a low-cal book, it's fitting perfectly in my recipe planning. The recipes are fairly easy and some do call for unusual items (but that depends on your personal cupboard).

The recipe I made out of this cookbook:

Chicken Marsala on the Lighter Side
Serves 4


  • 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8 ounces each)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour (I substituted gluten free flour)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots (I substituted a white onion)
  • 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms (I substituted regular sliced mushrooms for the cremini and shiitake mushrooms)
  • 3 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup Marsala wine (I substituted sherry cooking wine)
  • 1/2 cup Swanson 88% fat-free chicken broth (I used natural chicken stock)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 4 cutlets. Put each cutlet between two sheets of plastic wrap and lightly pound them until they are about 1/4 inch thick. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper.

Place an 18-inch-long length of wax paper on the counter. Put the flour in a shallow bowl and lightly dredge the chicken pieces in the flour, shaking off any excess. Put the chicken on the wax paper; reserve the 1 teaspoon remaining flour to use later.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 tablespoon of the butter and 1 teaspoon of the olive oil to the pan and swirl the pan until the butter has melted. Add the chicken and cook until slightly golden on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking dish and place in the oven to keep warm.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon olive oil to the skillet. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until soft and golden, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the reserved 1 teaspoon of flour and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add the Marsala wine, chicken broth, and parsley.

Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Return the chicken to the skillet with the mushrooms, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer in the sauce to let the flavors blend, about 4 to 5 minutes.

To serve, put a piece of chicken on each of 4 serving plates. Spoon the mushrooms and sauce evenly over the top, and serve hot.

Per serving (1 breast + mushrooms and sauce): calories 241; fat 8 g; saturated fat 2.5 g; cholesterol 80 mg; carbohydrate 10 g; fiber 1 g; protein 26 g; sugars 2 g; sodium 428 mg.

Adapted from The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka, Clarkson Potter 2014.

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review of A Promise to Protect by Patricia Bradley

Nutshell: A dead brother, a missing mysterious flash drive, a sheriff haunted by his past, and a sister whose life is at stake. This sums up the main characters in this fast paced story of danger and thrills. Mix in a little romance and you have book 2 in the Logan Point Series. Old memories come to the surface for Sheriff Ben Logan as he fights to save his long-ago girlfriend and her son from being killed. Someone is after the flash drive that his old girlfriend's dead brother had and the killer won't be stopped.

Pro's: A good, quick read that will keep you in suspense until the end. This can be a stand-alone book easily with not requiring a lot of back story to understand what is going on.

Con's: The romance got a bit mushy at times.

Recommendation: If you enjoy romance suspense novels, this is the one for you. Enjoy suspense novels? You'll more than likely like this. Don't enjoy suspense novels? You may yet still like this book.

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