Saturday, November 10, 2012

Review of Placebo by Steven James

While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world's largest pharmaceutical firms. After giving up his career as an escape artist and illusionist in the wake of his wife and sons' tragic death, Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program, but also answers to why his family suffered as they did. Rooted in ground-breaking science and inspired by actual research, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. Readers will love this taut, intelligent, and emotionally gripping new thriller from master storyteller Steven James.While covertly investigating a controversial neurological research program, exposé filmmaker Jevin Banks is drawn into a far-reaching conspiracy involving one of the world's largest pharmaceutical firms. After giving up his career as an escape artist and illusionist in the wake of his wife and sons' tragic death, Jevin is seeking not only answers about the questionable mind-to-mind communication program, but also answers to why his family suffered as they did. Rooted in ground-breaking science and inspired by actual research, Placebo explores the far reaches of science, consciousness, and faith. 

Steven James does not disappoint in this book. It is not for the faint of heart though as there are some pretty graphic scenes in it that make the stomach quite squeemish. It was a bit tough reading through the neurological terminology whenever it came up, but you get the gist of it the further in you read. The plot and characters are well developed and the story line is fast paced and reads smoothly. If you are a Steven James fan, this new series is going to be a great one. If you've never read Steven James, pick up one of his books. He's a fantastic storyteller and writer.

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

Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. The words above came straight from my own brain.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Farmer's Daughter by Dawn Stoltzfus

Welcome to the warm and inviting kitchen of Dawn Stoltzfus, a young Mennonite wife and mother who was raised on a dairy farm where simple, wholesome food was a key ingredient of the good life. In A Farmer's Daughter, she opens up her recipe box, wipes away the crumbs and wrinkles from the well-loved recipes, and shares them with cooks and food-lovers everywhere. She offers us over two hundred delicious recipes that reflect the comfort foods she learned to cook from her mother, the same hearty and creative recipes she made and sold at The Farmer's Wife Market. Along with the simple, wholesome recipes for starters, main dishes, sides, and desserts, readers will find charming stories from Dawn's Mennonite upbringing, tips and tricks for easy meal planning and preparation, and ideas for serving with flair. Anyone who loves to feed their loved ones hearty, wholesome meals will treasure this cookbook.

What a great cookbook this is! Dawn offers simple, healthy and all-family loving recipes in her cookbook with splashes of life growing up in a Mennonite home and carrying on those love made meals into her own kitchen.

Some of the recipes that I tried:

Honey Corn Bread
Sante Fe Chicken Soup
Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken
Slow Cooker Lasagna

All of these were very good (and the Slow Cooker Lasagna was super easy). Below is the recipe for the Sante Fe Chicken (that we enjoyed with the Honey Corn Bread).

1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp. salted butter or olive oil
1 (7 oz.) can diced green chiles, undrained
8 cups chicken broth
1 cup salsa
2 (15 oz.) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
1 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
1/2 fresh lime

green onions, diced
cheddar cheese, shredded
tortilla chips

In a large stockpot, cook onion, peppers, and garlic in butter or oil until vegetables are tender. Add chiles and sauté for 2 minutes. Add chicken broth, salsa, beans and chicken. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Right before serving, squeeze juice from lime into hot soup. Serve with garnishes. Serves 6-8

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

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

Review of When A Heart Stops by Lynette Eason

Spunky and outgoing, nothing much bothers medical examiner Serena Hopkins--except for the thought of falling in love again. But when a serial killer is picking off her former classmates, Serena's life becomes intertwined with her old high school crush, FBI agent Dominic Allen. Is the secret she's keeping putting her next on the killer's hit list? Can she trust Dominic with the truth before it's too late?
Lynette Eason does it again. A fast paced story that keeps you flipping page after page to find out what happens. In book two of the Deadly Reunions Series, Eason continues the story of medical examiner  Serena Hopkins and the killer who is using her to find, and kill, her old high school friend.  By taking out old high school classmates one by one, time is on the clock and running out as Serena becomes the target and the race becomes deadly up until the last page.

A recommended read for those suspense-looking book lovers.

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

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

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Review of Life With Lily by Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher

Today's review is brought to you by a guest blogger, Alina, who is eight years old and was the one who read Life With Lily.

For a child, every day is a thing of wonder. And for six-year-old Lily Lapp, every day is a new opportunity for blessings, laughter, family, and a touch of mischief. As she explores her world, goes to school, spends time with her family, and gets into a bit of trouble with her friends, Lily learns what it means to be Amish and what it means to grow up. From getting a new teacher to welcoming a new sibling, Lily’s life is always full of adventure.

I really liked the book. I like it because it looks like a grown up book, but it was really a kid book. Every chapter was about something different that was happening in Lily's life. The words weren't too big of words and there were a lot of describing words and that helped me picture what things looked like. I liked learning about how Amish people live and if Lily was a real person, I would like to be friends with her.

I would recommend to read this book and I can't wait until the 2nd book comes out.

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

Revell books sent this complimentary book for me to review. All opinions are from my brain.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Review of Story by Steven James

Stories are an integral part of the human condition, the way we have passed on history and information and inspiration for millenia. Using the power of imagery and the drama of narrative, bestselling author and professional storyteller Steven James leads readers through a journey into the greatest story ever told. From creation to Christ's birth, from his first miracle to eternity and everything in between, readers will see familiar scenes from the Bible like they never have before. These stories, retold as only Steven James can, will wake readers spiritually, re-inspire their faith journey, and jolt them into action.

A few months ago, I read my first Steven James book, The Queen, and loved it. This is a totally different type of book by the master storyteller. "Story" is a book about the Bible. But from a different angle. It's more of a journey through his eyes of stories in God's word. He does a great job weaving present day to Bible times and how it is relevant to us still today. He uses stories as imagery and parallels, examples if you will. He captures you from the beginning and takes you on a journey, helping you discover Jesus again, and how we are a part of God's bigger story that He is crafting.

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

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them. The opinions expressed are mine alone. 

Review of Lethal Legacy by Irene Hannon

The police say her father’s death was suicide. Kelly Warren says it was murder—and she has new evidence to prove it. Detective Cole Taylor doesn't put much credence in her claim, and nothing in his case review suggests foul play. But when Kelly ends up in the ER with a life-threatening medical condition, Cole digs deeper—and discovers a startling secret that links her to a long-ago crime. Is history repeating itself? And does someone want Kelly silenced?

Irene Hannon has done it again. Written another fantastic book that keeps you on the edge of each page up until the end. One thing I was thankful for was that the "who-dunn-it" guy was revealed early in the story as it was clearly evident early on who this character was. My first thought was that it was obvious and it was going to be a long book waiting for the other characters to figure it out. But thankfully the author revealed it shortly after.

On the romance end of it, it could have come down a few notches and been more centered on the mystery aspect, but it was better than previous books.

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

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Review of Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney

Cate Kinkaid's life is . . . well, frankly it's floundering. Her social life, her career, her haircut--they're all a mess. Unemployed, she jumps at the chance to work for her PI uncle, even though she has no experience and no instincts. After all, she is just dabbling in the world of private investigating until she can find a "real" job.
All she has to do for her first assignment is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? But when she reaches the dark Victorian house, she runs into an hungry horde of gray-haired mystery readers and a dead body. This routine PI job is turning out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?
This is the first Lorena McCourtney book I have read. It appears there are several by her, all mysteries. This book was very charming, witty and a smooth read. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good book to curl up with on one of those rainy or snowy days.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Review and Recipe of Food Family Style by Leigh Oliver Vickery

Food Family Style is a cookbook chalked full of recipes from salads, to main dishes to desserts to appetizers to kid friendly snacks. The sub title for this book is Simple and Tasty Recipes for Everyday Life. I would completely agree with this title. The recipes in this book were very simple and easy to make and also very versatile. Don't have mayo, but have avocados? Easy substitute. No red peppers? Why not use yellow instead? Don't like to fry your bacon? Why not bake it instead and put the leftover grease in as flavoring (if you chose to do so. I didn't and it was still amazing). The book doesn't offer substitutions for the recipes, but isn't that the fun part of making your own creations?

Another great tool this book offers is the symbol key. Each recipe has a symbol along side it to represent some added info for the recipe. The recipe may freeze well, or is a gluten free, or can be made in the crock pot, or is a fav of mom's around the country. This is added information that can help in your meal planning.

The moment I received this cookbook, I sat down to devour it. (I heart cookbooks. Like really heart them). The downside of this book? No pictures. I love pictures as I am a visual person. But the upside? More room for recipes! And recipes fill each and every page. Good sounding recipes. And I had just the right group to test these recipes on. My family. They are the best judges of what tastes good and thankfully they will try anything. So the search began. I ended up making several recipes. The majority were smash hits. Some I received the mediocre stamp of approval. But there was not one recipe that was turned down.

Here are some of the recipes I tried:

Berry-Apple Oatmeal "Pie"
Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
Breakfast Biscuit Sandwiches
Peanut Butter and Banana Paninis
Shrimp and Mango Pasta Salad
Pasta Club Salad
Fresh Summer Corn Salad
Thai Noodle Salad

Looking back, I see I was leaning more on the breakfast and pasta side of meals. Why? Because during these cooking times, it was between 90-100 degrees every day, so the less the oven was on the better. And we're smack dab in the middle of the summer harvest season so fresh produce is at it's peak. I tried everything with fresh produce instead of canned. Such an amazing taste! There are though, many soup recipes that I would love to try. When winter visits and nestles in.

One of our thumbs up recipes was Shrimp and Mango Pasta Salad. The dressing was so light and easy and the salad took minutes to put together. I did make one tweak: no red pepper, so I substituted a yellow pepper instead. That red pepper would've added SO much color to this salad which would've made the picture below pop. And mango's? Those are tricky fruits to get "just" ripe. Ours was a bit more on the "unripe" side. This will definitely be making it's round again on our menu rotation though.

Shrimp and Mango Pasta Salad

1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 lb small shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
1 lb any shape pasta, cooked, drained, and rinsed
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen kernel corn, thawed (I used fresh corn and it was amazing!)
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced (I used less b/c of the kids)
1 Tbs. mango juice (squeeze the pit over the bowl)
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh cilantro, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Toss avocado in a large mixing bowl with lemon and lime juices. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Chill and serve. Serves 4-6

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. So many easy ways to tweak it to your family's liking and lifestyle.

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

Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review and provide feedback. All opinions and photos are my own. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Review of Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt

In Raising Financially Confident Kids, financial expert Mary Hunt draws from solid statistics and her own hard-won knowledge and experience as a mom who made it back from the brink of financial ruin to help you teach your children how to handle money responsibly. From preschool through the teen years, every stage of your child's development is covered, including how to talk to them about money at each age, how to help them start saving money and giving it away, and how to avoid the pitfalls of easy credit and a culture built on debt.
This book opened my eyes to how I do need to be more pro-active in teaching money to our kids. Mary Hunt gives a great idea of starting your kids off with a salary instead of calling it an allowance. Part is put into savings. Part of it is given away. And the rest is spending money. There is so much more behind these three things. More ideas and descriptions as how you may want to teach your kids. One thing I liked was that in the "giving away" section, she and her husband taught their sons that the giving part doesn't have to be to church. It could be to someone who is in need. A charity. Someone at school who is going through a hard time. And even church. But with it there are no strings attached. And nothing expected in return.

Mary does a great job writing this as it is an easy read, yet chalked full of great ideas if you have kids at home and want to teach them how to live debt free as adults.

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

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

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Review of Heart of Ice by Lis Wiehl with April Henry

At first glance, the crimes appear random. Arson. Theft. Fraud. Murder. But these are more than random crimes. They're moves in an increasingly deadly game. And the one element they have in common: a woman who is gorgeous, clever . . . and lethal.
Elizabeth Avery has a winsome smile and flawless figure, but underneath is a heart of ice. She's a master manipulator, convincing strangers to do the unthinkable. And she orchestrates it all without getting too close. Until now.
When Elizabeth ruthlessly disposes of an inquisitive young reporter, her crime catches the attention of Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce, FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges, and crime reporter Cassidy Shaw. They know they're dealing with a cold-blooded murderer who could strike at any time. What they don't know is that they're already on a first-name basis with the killer. And one of them may be next on her list.
The third book in A Triple Threat Novel series, this book can easily be a stand alone. This book is not for the faint of heart. Three women, who work very different careers, unite together to solve murder mysteries. With action packed drama, a fast paced storyline and some pretty graphic descriptions, this book will keep you flipping page by fast page.

Some parts were a bit too descriptive and graphic for me, but overall, I would definitely read another of Lis and April's books.

Book Sneeze sent me a complimentary copy of this to book to review for them. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

still going strong

While we were high on cloud nine with our fresh engagement, there was still a move away to college that was coming up. 

A few weeks later found us saying goodbye outside my dorm.

Soon though, Ed got a job in the city I was attending college and was only now only 10 minutes away. 

We decided on a date for the wedding that was only months away. Even though I was still in college, and had many years to go, we knew it was best for us to get married soon. (I don't encourage anyone to get engaged at 19 and married at's not all flowers and butterflies...but thank Jesus it worked for us.)

Wedding plans started swirling in between classes, work and a trip to Italy. Soon the end of the school year came and went and it was time for a wedding!

May 20, 1995 dawned sunny and beautiful. It wasn't warm, but not frigid either (you never know what you'll get living in Michigan). The day's activities began with getting my hair all done up and the veil attached. Then it was off to the church to get ready. 

My mom was finishing up the touches of the wedding cake (I knew exactly what I wanted years before I even met Ed. My mom was a professional baker, so I saw many a wedding cake over my growing up years and had mine picked out well in advance).

All the pew bows were in place. The candelabras were set up and ready to be lit. 

The gym was all set for the celebration after the "I-do's".

Only thing left was getting the dress on and to say cheese for some pictures.

1:00 came and went. The auditorium was filled with hundreds of people. I finally made my way to the balcony while the slide show of Ed and I growing up came to an end (yes...a slide show. With actual slides..."uploading pictures to the computer" wasn't an option at that point in time).

I cued the sound guy to start the music and stood at the edge of the balcony and sang "Say Once More" by Amy Grant to my husband-to-be as he stood down by the stage. This way, he was the very first one to see me, well before any guests had the chance.

Song sung and I had mere seconds to get down the stairs so I could then walk down the aisle (I have my friend Valerie to thank for that...hi Valerie! I miss you!) 

The rest was a blur. A couple hymns, something about the rings, some I-do's and then the smooch. A walk back up the aisle, then back down to greet/dismiss our guests row by row. Pictures, smiles, food, more smiles, and then a ride to the park in my youngest brother's limo to get more pictures taken by my oldest brother (I'm the youngest of five. Four brothers and then me.) The silence, flowers and peace were wonderful. 

All the fam and some friends descended upon my parents house to greet us after our photo shoot. A big thanks goes out to our friend Jerry, who was the lucky one, along with my third oldest/second youngest brother, to drive our newly decorated "just married" car back to my parents house. That's as far as I'll go with that story...but way too funny not to mention!

A quick clothes change, opened some presents and then off we drove to begin our lives together. And again, people stood out on the lawn and waved goodbye to us. This time, I didn't mind.

May 20, 1995. The day our family began. Stars and love in our eyes and our whole lives before us. A blank book to fill with stories and memories, hardships, laughter, tears and pain. A book I'm so thankful to still be writing in today. A book, I pray, that will have many, many more chapters in the years to come. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Review of Hiking Through by Paul Stutzman

We interrupt regular scheduling for a brief review of an amazing book!

When he lost his wife to breast cancer, Paul Stutzman decided to make some big changes. He quit his job and set out on a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. With breathtaking descriptions and humorous anecdotes from his travels, Stutzman reveals how he found his own path to peace and freedom on a famous path through the wilderness. 

What an amazing book this is! Mr. Stutzman did a great job leading you through his journey of healing with humor and sadness mingled together while he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail all on his own.

I wasn't sure what this book was going to be like, but the author did a great job letting the reader into a part of his life and journey with him. Heart breaking, yet heart healing, I believe anyone would enjoy this book.

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

Baker Publishing sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions are my own.

strolling along

If this is your first time visiting and you'd like to read this story from the beginning, you can scroll back up to Monday's post to find out how our story began.

Fall quickly approached. I was starting my 2nd year of college, but instead of staying in town to attend school, I was moving away. The summer was coming to a close and my moving date approached.

We were trying to get in as much time together.

One such evening, we were headed out for a picnic dinner. To MSU we went (yes...we went there a lot).

I remember it being a warm summer evening (ok...I was just informed that it wasn't a warm evening after all. It was a cool, look-liked-it-was-going-to-rain evening. *I must have just been remembering it being warm because it brings back warm fuzzy feelings.). As we walked across the landscape Ed started up a conversation. Honestly, I was half listening as I was looking at all the beautiful flowers while we strolled.

I heard, "This place holds a lot of memories for me. I remember my mom and I coming here to listen to the bells at Beaumont Tower. I rode my bike to classes on this campus. This was where I was going to tell you that I loved you for the first time. But the best memory I'll have is when I asked you to marry me."


Wait. WHAT?

I look over and sure enough, he was down on one knee. He had to ask again in between my "no way" and "you're not serious" comments.

He was serious though. The ring he held in his hand showed just how serious he was.

With a beaming smile, I said yes.

And that, my friends, is not even the rest of the story.

*insert gushiness here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The dating dance

And so the dating dance began. And what a dance it was.

Everything started out great. I even had my first kiss (and he was such a gentleman - he even asked my permission first.)

But one little hiccup happened many months in.

The evening started out like any other date. He picked me up and we were headed to a movie. He made the statement, "I have something I'd like to talk to you about later."

That statement set the course for a very interesting evening, and even for the weeks to come.

I got nervous. Really nervous.

We sat through the movie and then went out to dinner.

Nerves intensifying along the way.

We then headed to MSU to chat. He parked, we started walking and ended up at Beaumont Tower on campus. By this time I was sick-to-my-stomach nervous. I excused myself from our conversation and walked away to try and calm myself down. That sure didn't work.

He says I got sick, but I don't recall that happening.

I do remember however, the drive back to my house and telling him to pull over while I lost my dinner along side the road. romantic.

We never did have the chat that night. (And he just wanted to tell me that he loved me!)

For weeks (possibly's all a blur) to come, I battled with getting sick on dates. Yet he stayed ever so patient and gave me the space I needed.

It got so bad that at one point I broke things off. That lasted one day.

That's when I knew I had it bad for this guy.

The two hour parking lot chats transformed into letters once the school year started. Passed back and forth somehow throughout the week. Letters left on each other's windshields. Letters traded at church. Lots and lots of letters. Phrases of love and liking and funny pictures and day-to-day activities.

I graduated from high school that following spring. He graduated from college the same month. That summer I worked at the church as a custodian. We had lunch together every day, sharing smiles as we passed each other, blushing when he'd wink at me. Just knowing he was there made the day fly by.

We had a rhythm. Even through my first year of college.

Then things got a bit more interesting.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A sly guy

July 24, 1992.

Our first date. My first date ever. I was a mere 17 years old (well beyond prime dating age...but I really didn't care.) I was beyond nervous.

The doorbell rang and I don't even know who answered it. The night was underway and I was swept into the excitement of my first date.

"Have her home by 10."

Out the door we went, into his red Chevy pickup truck and pulled out of the driveway.

And there they were. My family standing on the front porch waving goodbye. Maybe I'll do that to my daughter one day.

We were heading to an outdoor play at Michigan State University and then out to dinner. The butterflies must have had one too many shots of caffeine as they were going crazy in my stomach.

We made it to MSU's campus with small talk along the way. Got to our seats and the show started. We shared a Melting Moments ice cream cookie (it was delish) during intermission and settled in for the second part of the play.

At one point he snuggled up a little closer and said (these words I do remember), "My hands are really cold" as he slid one into mine.

Sly. Very sly.

Show was over and we headed back to his truck. I was curious as to where we were going to go for dinner. His words (again, verbatim), "I thought we would head to QD to pick up some sandwiches." My polite, shy self just smiled and nodded. Inside was another story. QD? REALLY?

Side note: QD aka Quality Dairy. Think of 7-11, but a place where you could also purchase milk in a bag, ice cream from behind the counter and hot dogs on the spin-o-matic. A very classy place for a first date.

Sure enough, we pull into the parking lot of a QD. I said I was going to stay in the truck while he went in to get his sandwich. I was the least bit hungry. He convinced me to come in with him. Those brown eyes got me every time! I obliged, got out and started heading to QD. Halfway through the parking lot, I looked over and he said, "where are you going?"


He may or may not have grabbed my hand and steered me towards this little restaurant/ice cream parlor in the same parking lot. Much nicer than QD by a long shot.

Again. Sly.

Welcome to the world and fun dance of dating. I was in for quite the ride.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The question

Chats started becoming more than one word. Sunday nights started to become a routine of seeking him out after youth group. Most of the time he asked questions and I answered with the fewest words possible.  He began to wonder if I could even talk. 

Months passed with these small conversations. 

As was my ritual every Sunday morning (just so I could see him), I made my way to "his door". Not only did he work at the church, he volunteered as an usher during the 11:00 service. This Sunday was like every other, except the conversation. A phrase was added that had not been broached before. 

"Do you think I could take you out sometime?" (I don't remember the exact words as I was lost in his eyes when he asked). 

My reply: "You'll need to ask my dad for permission." (And yes...this was the rule in my home...being the youngest of five AND the only girl...twas good reason this rule was made.)

He responded, "Ok."

And I thought that was it. Who in their right mind would call and ask my dad? Yes...he is a sweet Irish man, but a papa bear lived under the surface protecting his little girl at all costs.

To my utter shock, he did call. But also went a step further. He asked my dad out for lunch to discuss his intentions.

Yeah...he's that amazing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


He stayed at a distance. His friends (wisely) said I was too young. Only a sophomore in high school to his junior in college. 

But he wooed me. Not with words mind you. With his chocolate brown eyes that crinkled at the edges every time he smiled. Woo. 

I managed to squeak out a "hi" now and then, but otherwise kept my mouth shut as this was all new terrain for me. 

Even before we started holding a multi-word conversation, he knew. He knew I was the one for him. He pointed this shy girl out to his mom one evening at church and said he was going to marry her someday. 

Little did I know how the journey would blossom.

Monday, May 14, 2012

the beginning

I was a youngin' when I saw him. 16 years old. I remember him closing up the church after the night services ended as that was his job. He would hang around and wait for the youth group to finish, of which I was a part of. I remember seeing him walking down the back foyer hallway in a pair of jeans, t-shirt and his brown leather jacket, checking the doors and making sure all the lights were off. 

On Sunday mornings, the youth group would always sit on the right side, taking up the first four pews. The college and singles would sit behind us. During the service I would take a few glances back, pretending to look at the clock, but would do a quick scan to see if I could see him behind me. 

On Wednesday nights, the youth group would sit, yet again, on the right side in the front and I'd scan the back for his handsome face.

Sometimes I would catch his eye. He would smile. I would melt. 

Other times, I'd get to just look at him without him noticing.

But one such Sunday, there was a girl sitting next to him. A very pretty girl. I shouldn't have been surprised. Heck...I was only 16! But I was still a bit sad. He had a girl. 

And time went on. The girl left the scene. 

Enter the beginning of something beautiful.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Review of Not This Time by Vicki Hinze

Sara and Beth built a multi-million dollar business and act as anti-terrorism consultants.  Now their business and friendship are strained because Beth is leery of Sara’s husband.  When he goes missing and is verified kidnapped, authorities consider Beth their prime suspect.
Then their hometown, Seagrove Village, Florida, is rocked by an act of terrorism, and Beth doesn’t know who to trust. Someone close to her is connected to the attack, but who? Is there a connection to Crossroads Crisis Center? In the midst of the confusion and fear, Beth finds herself attracted to a man from her past, the former Shadow Watcher, Joe. She knows she shouldn’t fall in love with him–she can’t resist or even explain their bond. And as her world unravels around her, she wonders…
Will the truth set her free or ruin her life?  Is it possible to be pushed beyond redemption?
When I started this book, I quickly realized that it was part of a series. I had a difficult time figuring out the characters and the back story of them, which I know would have helped. The author did give a bit of back story during the plot, but still left the reader a bit confused through the entire book.

The story though was amazing and kept you guessing and on the edge of the page until the end. Well written and an author that I would definitely read again. If you are interested in reading this book, I would strongly suggest reading the first two books before this one.

WaterBrook Multnomah sent me this complimentary book to review for them. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Review of Don't Panic: Quick, Easy, and Delicious Meals for Your Family by Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell and Bonnie Garcia

Cookbooks are one of my downfalls. I read them like a regular book and devour each page. So when the offer to review Don't Panic came across my mail, I jumped at the chance. This cookbook includes appetizers, main dishes, desserts and so much more. The recipes are down to earth and require no out-of-the-ordinary ingredients. The recipe I chose to do was Ruth's Hot Fudge Sauce. With ice cream calling in the freezer to be eaten, I know this recipe was the one for our family. I halved the recipe, and afterwards, was so glad I did. The halved recipe made about two cups worth of fudge sauce (which is plenty for our little family). It took approximately 20 minutes (and will depend on how long your element heats up if you have an electric stove) and was super easy. I got the nods of approval from the two youngest taste testers of the family, so this is a hit in our house.

Here's the recipe if you have 20 minutes of spare time to whip it together. Your ice cream will thank you.

Ruth's Hot Fudge Sauce
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1 - 14 oz. can evaporated milk
2 cups sugar 1 t. vanilla

Directions: In a medium saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Add evaporated milk and sugar. Stir well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove fudge sauce from heat. Add vanilla, stir, and serve.

Yields 12 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes

Revell sent this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions expressed are my own and the fudge sauce is almost gone.

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

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Review of Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

In 1904 Texas Ranger Luke Palmer arrives in Brenham, Texas, with one goal--to capture the gang of outlaws led by Frank Comer. Undercover as a telephone repairman, he uses his days on the range to search, not realizing there's another pair of eyes watching him.
Georgie Gail, switchboard operator and birder, heads out on a birding expedition, but instead of sighting a painted bunting, her opera glasses capture her telephone man, armed and far away from telephone lines. Palmer is forced to take this alluring troublemaker into his confidence and unwittingly puts her in harm's way. The closer he comes to the gang, the further she works her way into his heart--and into trouble. Soon it's more than just love that's on the line.

What a terrific book! Loved the suspense, the humor and the all around story. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to read. Deeanne Gist is one of my favorite authors and she did not disappoint in this book. Well written and one I would definitely read again.

Bethany House Publishers sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Review of To Have and To Hold by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller

Take a trip back to the 1800's to the deep southern part of Georgia with Audrey Cunningham, her father, their plantation on an island and a group of wealthy investors who want to buy all the land. This is Audrey's story of living life as an "old spinster" who is in charge of looking over her father in his last years.

Enter Marshall Graham who is hired to be the general contractor of the resort that is being built on part of the island Audrey's plantation resides. Their clash of interests leads to many sparks along their bumpy road of a relationship, but become smoothed out when they have to depend on each other when the building of the resort keeps being sabotaged by an unknown person.

Join them in their adventure of wading through friendship, trials and sadness.

For me, this book was average. Average story, average plot. If you like a lighter-side type of reading, you may thoroughly enjoy this book.

Bethany House Publishers sent me a complimentary copy of this book to review for them. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates by Rob and Joanna Teigen

"She'll be your daughter for life. But she'll only be your little girl for awhile. Make the most of this special time with the help of 88 Great Daddy-Daughter Dates."

I was honored to be asked to review this book for Revell Books. Having a daughter, especially at such an impressionable age, and her hero dad be able to have even more ideas of ways to spend together, was the reason for wanting to review this book.

With so many different ideas, some inexpensive, some expensive, and some totally free, the authors (who are local's of where we live) give dad's a huge resource of what they can do with the the little ladies in their lives. From baking together, to going to pick apples, to playing dress-up, to having a campout in the backyard, each date it broken up into three categories: Grab, Go and Grow. Grab the things items you may need for the date, Go on the date and Grow from your time together which gives dad's questions to ask their daughters and scripture that relates to the evening.

One date that my husband and daughter did was the Bike Ride date (#42). She got a new bike for her birthday and when the weather turned nice, out they went. She couldn't wait and they had a blast with it just being the two of them.

This is a fantastic resource for dad's. I know it will be a book that gets picked up many a time over the next years as my husband takes my daughter out to spend time with her.

Available March 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions of this book are solely mine.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Review of Heart's Safe Passage by Laurie Alice Eakes

It's 1813 and all Phoebe Lee wants out of life is to practice midwifery in Loudon County, Virginia. When Belinda, her pregnant sister-in-law, presses Phoebe to accompany her onto a British privateer in order to cross the Atlantic and save her husband from an English prison, Phoebe tries to refuse, then finds herself kidnapped.
Captain Rafe Docherty is a man in search of revenge. His ship is no place for women, but he needs Belinda in order to obtain information about the man who destroyed his family and his life. Between Belinda's whining and Phoebe's hostility, Rafe can't help but wonder if he made the right choice.

This is book two in the Midwives Series by Laurie Alice Eakes. As seen from above, this book is set in the 1800 mainly aboard a ship crossing from America to England during the war. Phoebe and Rafe, the two main characters are also at war with each other. One trying to escape and the other trying to hold onto his prisoner to use in his ultimate revenge on someone from his past.

I thought the book started out a bit slow and then picked up about half way through. I also thought some parts were a bit over the edge with romance, but other readers may enjoy that type of writing style. I thought the plot as a whole was good as was the way it flowed. If your slant is more toward the romantic side of books, this is the book for you.

Revell Books sent me this complimentary book to review for them. Opinions are my own. Available February 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Life in limbo

It has been a long while since I've posted something other than a book review on my blog.

I've been intentionally waiting to write.

Hoping that the next post would be announcing Ed's new counseling practice.

Hoping that the next day we could celebrate this new phase in life.

Days passed into weeks.

Weeks into months.

We thought the process to get his license would take mere weeks, but has actually turned into an on-going, letter writing, phone calling process with the state government.

To wrap it up in a tiny nutshell, the state denied Ed a license because they don't recognize the agency that accredited the graduate school he went to.

So the past months have been a roller-coaster. Do we move again? Do we stay? What in the world do we do? It hasn't been easy in the least. Confusion, fear, little slices of hope, tears, frustration, hopes dashed, and clinging to each other and what little faith there is right now.

We're hoping and praying for an answer this coming Friday, March 2nd. Ed is traveling to Lansing to sit in a meeting being held by the Counseling Board of Directors (which only meet every three months) and hopes to speak and defend his case. He has diligently researched the accreditation process, wrote all his findings in a letter, mailed that letter (more than once) to the Counseling Chair and Vice-Chair, the Governor, State Senator's and Representatives, and has a copy for each of the eleven Board of Directors.

Prayers would be greatly appreciated as our life and family have been in limbo the past seven months. Knowing that God wanted us back in MI makes the wonderment of why this is happening even greater.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review of When The Smoke Clears by Lynette Eason

After a brush with death due to equipment failure, smokejumper Alexia Allen is ordered to take time off while the incident is under investigation. She makes a last-minute decision to recuperate at her mother's home and attend her high school reunion. Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving home she is confronted with murder, arson--and a handsome detective.
But the conflicts ahead are nothing compared to the ghosts of her past. As she struggles to accept and forgive her family's past, she must also decide if the secret she's been guarding for the last ten years must finally come to light.

Chalked full of suspense from the opening page. This book has you flipping pages faster than you ever thought, to find out what in the world is going to happen next! Such a great plot, great characters and great writing. You will wonder what is going to happen until the very last sentence.

The one thing I didn't like about this book was the end! Talk about a cliff hanger! Can't wait for the next one to come out!! Great writing Lynette!

Available February 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
Revell Books sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. All opinions are my own.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review of The Crossing by Serita Jakes

On the way home from a football game, a decade earlier, a masked gunman opened fire on a Texas school bus. Cheerleading coach B.J. Remington was killed, but her murderer was never found. Claudia, who had a close friendship with the young, spirited teacher, constantly relives the anguish of that day, caught in one moment in time. When her husband, the assistant district attorney, becomes determined to uncover the mystery of that tragedy, the secrets buried over the years threaten to tear their family apart.

Officer Casio Hightower will never forget the day his dreams were destroyed. A star quarterback with a promising future, Casio was on top of the world—until one bullet changed everything. He is eager to help Victor Campbell find B.J.’s killer, the man who shot him. Maybe solving the case will help silence the demons driving Casio to hurt the woman he loves.

As the Campbells and Casio teeter on the brink of losing everything, will they be able to discover that what begins at the crossing ends at the cross?

Such a great book. A bit twisted in parts, but so well written that you feel like you're experiencing life with these people. The heartache and glimpses of joy. The sorrow and despair along with closure and deep love. I must say though that certain parts were violent, which was unexpected.

The author did a great job creating the characters and storyline. She creatively jumped back and forth between the coach's thoughts at the time of the shooting to those involved ten years later. It was well done and flowed seamlessly.

*WaterBrook Multnomah sent this complimentary copy for me to review for them. The opinions expressed here are solely mine.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review of Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Rick Yorkey

It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands?

From the opening pages, this is a super fast paced book all the way to the very last page. A fantastic historic read that transports you back to WWII and the freeing of Paris. Included in that history is how the Mona Lisa came to be and how she survived WWII. This is a fantastic read that you won't want to put down.

Chasing Mona Lisa is a continuation of Goyer and Yorkey's first book The Swiss Courier but can be read as a stand alone novel.

Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Revell sent me this free copy to review for them.