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.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Review of Grill It, Braise It, Broil It by the American Heart Association

Nutshell: A cookbook filled with 175 heart healthy recipes that feature 12 different ways to prepare your main dishes. This book contains recipes for your crockpot, the grill, broiling and even microwaving along with many more options.

Pro's: The color pictures! I love cookbooks with pictures as I am a very visual person and like to see what dishes look like. There was a variety of cooking styles that may suit those looking for a different slant of how dishes are prepared.

Con's: Not many recipes were appealing. We are not a tofu family and the majority of recipes use tofu. I found very few healthy sweet recipes and very few recipes that contain main staples in the kitchen. I may be more tempted to prepare some of the recipes if it was just my husband and I, but with two growing kids, I know they may not particularly care for the unusual recipes. (Yes, they do try everything I cook). My pantry does not contain a lot of the buy-once ingredients, not would my budget fit the unusual assortment of items I would need to buy for one recipe.

Recommendation: If you are an adventurous cook, this is the book for you. If Beets with Orange Gremolata to Stuffed Chayote Squash make your fingers itch to get cooking, get this book and you may just enjoy some of the interesting dishes it has to offer.

The recipe I tried was Stuffed "Baked" Apples. The recipe is found below:

2 T light brown sugar
2 T sweetened dried cranberries
2 T gold raisins
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
4 small Granny Smith, Fuji, or Gala apples, halved, cored scared
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 T chopped walnuts, dry roasted.

In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cranberries, raisins, cinnamon, oil, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.

Put the apples in a shallow 1-quart microwaveable baking dish with a lid. Spoon the stuffing in the apples. Pour the orange juice around the apples.

Microwave, covered, on 100 percent power (high) for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the apples are soft.

Carefully transfer the apples to serving plates, leaving the juices in the dish. Microwave the remaining juices, uncovered, on 100 percent power (high) for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by half (to about 1/4 cup).

Just before serving, drizzle the juice mixture over the apples, Sprinkle with the walnuts

*I served with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. I also omitted the walnuts as they are not a favorite in our household. This tasted really good, but hard to eat the skins - they were used more as a bowl to hold the softened apple in.

Waterbrook Multnomah sent me this complimentary book to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own, as is the photo of the dessert.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Review of A Reason to Stay by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Nutshell: This is book 3 in the Texas Gold Collection. Faith Marin has it all. The perfect job. The perfect husband. The perfect life. Or so it seems.  She is climbing the ladder at the TV station she has dedicated her life to. Her sights are set on being a news anchor at a national station. But with her dedication to work, her marriage comes in second place and not long after saying "I do" things start to become strained and fall apart. In the blink of an eye, tragedy strikes and Faith now has to reevaluate her life, her marriage and her priorities.

Pro's: What a great book! It was a stand alone book even though it is in a series. I loved the story line, how the characters were portrayed, the battle put before Faith, the deep love and of course, the outcome. Kellie Coates Gilbert did a fantastic job keeping the reader engaged and hungry to read until the wee hours of the morning just to finish the book. What a heart string pulling book that takes you through the past of the main character and weaves it in to the present.

Con's: I wish it was longer! The only thing that could've been different was the cover. But what was behind the cover was amazing!

Recommendation: Read this book! There are not a lot of books that I will stay up late reading. This was one of them. Such a heart warming, heart wrenching good book that you won't be able to put down!

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Review of Deadlock by DiAnn Mills

Nutshell: This is book 3 in An FBI: Houston Novel. Two completely different FBI special agents are put together as new partners. They hit their first day together with a horrific murder that needs to be solved immediately. In a race against time, these two opposite personalities need to come together as one to stop this murderer who is wreaking havoc on the city of Houston. Agent Bethany Sanchez is not only trying to bring down a murderer, but keeping an eye out for her brother, who just got out of jail himself. Agent Thatcher Graves is trying to turn around his reputation and live life in a new way. With twists and turns, leads that turn to dead ends, murders on the rise, and two opposites learning how to partner with each other, this book will have you trying to figure out what in the world is going to happen next.

Pro's: DiAnn Mills does a great job in keeping the reader sucked in to this book! I thought I had it all figured out halfway through and then a wrench was thrown in to keep my guessing as to who the murderer was. The storyline kept me turning every page all the way to the end. Even with it being the third book in the series, it does very well as a stand alone novel. You didn't feel as though you were trying to play catch up from previous books. It was a great clean slate from the first page.

Con's: The romance was a bit much. I think it could've been toned down a bit. Other than that, a great book!!

Recommendation: If you like murder suspense, this is the book for you! A great read that keeps you locked in all the way to the end.

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

Review of Murder at the Courthouse by A.H. Gabhart

Nutshell: Start with a quiet town, add a nosey busy body, throw in a stranger, a wandering, angry teen and a dash of murder and end up with a cozy mystery that needs to be solved. The citizens of Hidden Springs, KY are thrown for a loop when the town busy body finds a stranger dead on their courthouse steps. Not only are the citizens thrown for a loop, so is the law enforcement where the most excitement they encounter is a traffic ticket. Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane is assigned to the case and is in charge of finding out who this stranger is and who killed him. The case leads him on some unexpected turns and down roads that he doesn't understand.

Pro's: If you can call a book a refreshing mystery, this is it. It wasn't a bloody gory murder suspense, but a snuggle up and feel good murder mystery. Gabhart does a spectacular job of keeping the reader engaged throughout this light hearted story line. I enjoyed this book very much! The flow, the style of writing, the plot, the lightness.

Con's: It took a few chapters to wrap my brain around the characters (more so the law enforcement characters between deputy chief, chief, deputy, sheriff, deputy sheriff etc).

Recommendation: Need a book to snuggle up on a rainy fall day or a bitter snowy cold evening? Choose this one! A great read! I look forward to the second book in this series!

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review of The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

Nutshell: Brooke Eden knows she's not who everyone says she is, but doesn't know exactly who she is. She entrusts her friend, Justin, to find out what her identity is. After it is revealed, everything shifts  around her and she finds herself in an unknown land with unknown people trying to stay afloat with a new identity. She soon finds out why she was hidden away for so long and the reason could turn deadly.

Pro's: I love the description of the setting of this book. I could smell the ocean, feel the sun on my skin and hear the lilt of accents in the voices of the characters.

Con's: Hard to remember all the characters and keeping them all apart. I feel like these characters may have been introduced in a previous book and I'm coming in the middle of a story. It was hard to stay focused while figuring out who went with who. The character list at the beginning helped, but several times I needed to stop and refer back to this list. The story line was a bit slow in the middle section, but then picked up the pace the closer the book came to a close.

Recommendation: A pretty good book that would be one to pick up on a rainy day. If you enjoy historical fiction, you may enjoy this book set in the early 1900's.

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

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Review of The Sea Keeper's Daughters by Lisa Wingate

Nutshell: Whitney Monroe is meeting herself around corners. She is fighting to keep her restaurant alive with people breathing down her neck who are ready to snatch her business right out from under her. Life abruptly stops when she receives a message that her step-father has ended up in the hospital and she needs to travel hundreds of miles to take care of him. Her journey takes her so much further as she finds letters written by an unknown family member which tie her heritage to legends from the past. Follow Whitney on an exploratory journey that crosses the sands of time, faith and family.

Pros: I loved, loved, loved this book. What a magnificent story with the perfect splash of faith, finding love and learning about forgiveness. Her style of writing captivates the reader and sucks him/her in to the story from the beginning. I also love how she intertwined characters and storylines from pervious books she has written and tied them in to this book. If you had never read any of her other books, it still made sense. I just loved how she unobtrusively added them in.

Cons: None. One of the best books I have read!

Recommendation: Read this book! Or any of Lisa Wingate's books. She is a master at writing and has been blessed with a very special gift.

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

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review of Trial Run by Thomas Locke

Nutshell: Mind games are under way, except these games are life and death. With twists and turns through this whole book, each page is chalked full of mind bending experiments and outcomes that leave you wondering what is going to come next. This is book one in the Fault Lines series.

Pro's: Interesting! This book had me thinking and learning all sorts of new words and ideas. It's not a book I would normally pick up, but the storyline was easy to follow.

Con's: It became a bit too technical when talking about computers and mind experiments at times where I ended up skimming over parts as it was above my level of knowledge.

Recommendation: If you enjoy a bit of sic-fi mixed with suspense mixed with secrecy, this book is for you!!

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

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review of Reservations for Two by Hillary Manton Lodge

Nutshell: This book is #2 in the Two Blue Doors series. The story continues with Juliette D'Alisa as she explores her grandmother's past in her homeland of Tuscany. Journey with Juliette as she digs deeper and learns more of ancestry which start many more questions about her family. Walk along side her as she and her new boyfriend, Nick, figure out how to continue a long-distant relationship. Smell the aroma's of the recipes that are cooked up in the new family restaurant she manages and owns with her brother. Sit with her as her heart explodes with love for her family and the challenges they face.

Pro's: As a recipe lover, the recipes in this book look amazing! I can't wait to try some of them. As for the book, I enjoyed the intertwined storyline of the letters of Juliette's grandmother and the story of Juliette. It was like two story's in one!

Con's: If you haven't read the first book, this book may be a little hard to follow. It has been awhile since I read the first book and it was a bit hard to pick up where the previous book left off. This was a true second book in a series and picked up right where the previous one left off.

Recommendation: Read this series! I love the lilt of the book, the emotions that are evoked in the characters and feeling like you are right there in the lavender fields.

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review of Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon

Nutshell: Tracy and Mitchell's lives are about to intersect in a not-so-great way. They each want to continue living their lives as they are. One as a struggling cranberry farmer and the other as one who's job it is is to help others. But when their lives collide, the roads they thought they were traveling down take a hard right turn. Follow their story of forgivness, soul searching and how one incident can change the trajectory of their lives.

Pro's: I loved this book. It was light, heartwarming and tender. Irene Hannon spins a tale that will make your heart warm and fuzzy by the time you are done reading it. You have hardships and light moments along with a few side stories along the way.

Con's: Only that it had to end.

Recommendation: If you are in need of a book that will make you smile, but yet is not fluff, pick this one up.

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

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Review of Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Nutshell: Louisa's life looks picture perfect from the outside. Three kids, husband, big house, everything anyone would ever want. But on the inside she is falling apart. Her marriage is falling apart. Her kids are going crazy. She goes through the motions of living without actually living fully. All that changes in the blink of an eye...or the hit on the head by the George Foreman grill she was taking out of the cupboard. Now she can't remember who she was. But she does know who she is: a famous writer that lives on the beach. She's sure she's not married, and kids? No way. Follow Louisa's journey as she learns who she was, who she is and how her past splits her heart open in ways she didn't expect.

Pro's: What a great story line! I loved the angle this book took the minute the grill fell on her head. Laced with a touch of humor, but overflowing with love, it was a great story line that kept you turning the pages to see if her memory does return.

Con's: None. Only that it ended sooner than I would have liked!

Tyndale Publishing sent me this complimentary copy to review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Review of Gone Without A Trace by Patricia Bradley

The Nutshell: This is book 3 in the Logan Point Series. Detective Livy Reynold's is facing traumatic events from her past that have her moving back to Logan Point for a time. PI Alex Jennings is put on a case to locate the Texas senator's missing daughter who disappeared from Logan Point. These two join forces and end up working two cases that they find have similarities. It's a race again time for those that are missing and the detective and PI to wrap up the cases before someone gets killed.

Pro's: What a great book to wrap up the series! You are able to read this book as a stand-alone novel as well. It has been a long while since I read the previous book, and I didn't have any difficulty following along the plot and characters when I could barely remember what the previous book was about. The author keeps you guessing and what a great page turner this book is!

Con's: A smidge on the romantic side that was not particularly realistic.

Recommendation: Read this book. Read the whole series! Great author with great plots and suspense!

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

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review of Desperate Measures by Sandra Orchard

Nutshell: Kate Adams is still on the hunt for who tried to kill her dad and what the big secret is about the plants she is harboring in her basement. Book 3 in the Port Aster Series concludes the journey of researcher Kate Adams, but not without a price on her life. Journey with Kate as she unravels the mystery of her past, her present and her future.

Pro's: Full of suspense and mystery. The author does a good job of keeping you wondering who is after Kate and why the plants she's keeping secret are so important.

Con's: A lot of "what if's". I know detectives are supposed to look at all angles, but it was hard to get past the scenarios flying around throughout the book. There were several characters that were hard to keep in place and to whom they worked for. It would have helped to re-read the 2nd book again to freshen up the plot and what was going on as it was hard to piece the plot together.

Recommendation: This is not a stand-alone book. It would be advantageous to read the first two books before reading this one. It's a great mystery and suspense book if you are inclined to that type of genre.

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

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Review of Ruby by Cynthia Bond

Nutshell: Ruby returns to the town that where all of her haunting secrets began. Ephram, her childhood friend can not get her out of his mind. This story is her journey through the past and finding freedom in the present while her long-ago friend does not give up on her and walks the path of healing for himself and with her.

Pro's: The words in this book are so descriptively beautiful, even during the most horrendous portions. The imagery is crystal clear, the emotion so raw that it takes your breath away.

Con's: At face value, this book could be seen as graphic and wrought with distasteful language. But it is so fitting considering the context of the story. I did have a hard time getting into the book with the back and forth between the present and the past, but once the reader figures it out, the book sweeps you away.

Recommendation: You have to be able to see past the face value of the book. This book makes you think, makes you feel uncomfortable, makes your heart race, makes you furious, and evokes different emotions throughout the pages. It is not an easy read in the sense of the abuse that takes place and it does weigh heavy on the heart.

Waterbrook Multnomah sent me this copy to review for them. All opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review of The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker

Nutshell: Carrington Hale is growing up in the year 2257 and is about to be chosen as a bride. She has been trained her whole life for this one moment. When that moment passes and she is not chosen, her whole life changes in a blink and she is plummeted to the lowest class in society as a Lint. Her journey in finding who she is ultimately chosen by leads her to many choices of listening to that still small voice. From having a second chance in being chosen again by one of the most elite in society, she is faced with what true love is in human form and in the spiritual form.

Pro's: I absolutely loved this book. The plot, the characters, the journey the main character is taken on, the style of writing and the emotions this book evokes is top notch. The history flashbacks helped immensely as did the list of characters in the front.

Con's: It was a bit hard to get in to, but once you have a grasp of who is who and what is going on, the story flies.

Recommendation: As her debut novel, Rachelle Dekker does a phenomenal job in creating a story that sucks you in and keeps you up until the wee hours of the morning just to finish the book. It's like a book I haven't read before. A little sci-fi, a little romance, a little mystery, a little suspense all rolled in to one. A definite for your bookshelf! Available June 3rd.

Q & A with the author:

1. One of the story’s most significant lines is, “Life is a journey of remembering and forgetting.” What do you mean by this?
It means exactly what you probably think. We have these flashes of clarity where we see so clearly who we areand our connection to the Fatherbut then, in a single moment, something pulls our attention away and we forget who we are. This is the journey of life, remembering and forgetting. But I believe the more we remember, the more we set our gaze on the Father, the less often we forget. 

2. You based your main character, Carrington, off of your younger sister. In what ways is Carrington like her?
It’s more the beliefs that Carrington struggles with that remind me of my sister. The idea of worth, of not feeling like you’re enough, or questioning whether anyone would choose you. Carrington came about as I spent time with my sister and her college-age friends and saw that a large majority of them were searching for significance, searching for worthnone more than my sister at the time. 

3. How did you come up with the story for The Choosing?
This is a hard question because it has many answers. I wanted to write a theme-based novel about identity. I wanted to write a dystopian novel. I wanted to write in a world that was familiar, but in a setting where I could change the way the world worked. It actually is several ideas I’d been toying with pulled into one story. Once I landed on Carrington’s core revelation and story arc, I simply fell in love with her as a character and drew the rest of the story around her. That’s usually how it works for me. I come up with a character, good or bad, and create the story from there. 

Rachelle Dekker is the eldest daughter of author Ted Dekker. This is her debut novel and more information about her can be found at the following sites:

      Twitter: @RachelleDekker
      Instagram: @rachelle_dekker

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

Friday, May 01, 2015

Review of Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon

Nutshell: A dead body unearthed. Two law enforcement officers caught up in a deadly case. A splash of romance thrown in. Suspense and mystery throughout. Book 1 of the Men of Valor Series is introduced with a great story! Irene Hannon does it again with another suspense book that keeps you turning the pages to find out what happens next.

Pro's: A great story line that keeps you glued to the pages of what is going to happen next.

Con's: A bit heavy on the romance side.

Recommendation: If you enjoy suspense novels, you will enjoy the first book in this new series!

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

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.