Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Base Hits and Home Run Relationships

Love is like baseball, so hit a home run in your relationship! With Trina Boice's advice, any man can learn how to step up to the plate. Learn tips, stats, and skills to make a powerful and lasting romance whether you're in the minor leagues of dating or the major leagues of married life.

My thoughts: What a fun book, to liken relationships to baseball! (which, btw, I enjoy;)) Set up with some fun chapters to help guys with their relationships with girls, this book offers fun advise that will help give men ideas on things like love languages, kindness, being a man, and humor. I thought her advise was wonderful and that this book is a perfect gift for the single guy wanting to change his relationship status.:) It's fun that each chapter has an assignment to help out, ones that have been field tested by the authors own son!
I received this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

To Win Her Favor

A gifted rider in a world where ladies never race, Maggie Linden is determined that her horse will become a champion. But the one man who could help her has vowed to stay away from thoroughbred racing forever.

An Irishman far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and begin farming, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the inaugural Peyton Stakes, the richest race ever run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance—and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder—Maggie’s father, aging, yet wily as ever, makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail—Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

My thoughts: Whether you read the first Belle Meade Plantation novel or not, you will enjoy this book! There are just a few references to the previous story, To Whisper Her Name, but they don't really give away a lot of the details of the first story unless you know what they are talking about by having read the first book. So, if you enjoy this story, go back and read the first book.;)
Anyway, I thought this was a fascinating story about the neighbors of Belle Meade, who have found themselves fallen on hard times after the War between the States. When an Irishman comes to ask about buying the property, Mr. Linden finds a way to keep the property in the family and see his daughter settled.
I thought that it is interesting that this series has explored so many different sides of the Civil war and the 5 years after the last battle. I think that the author does a fine job of portraying the history, giving it new life with her wonderful characters. Two thumbs up!
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Side by Side

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia’s life collides with that of another young woman. A young Christian American mother, Mia finds more than one dark secret on the streets of Khartoum. She finds Halimah, a young, upper-class Arab student with a bright future in her family’s business whose risky and secretive decision has put her life in danger. What happens when the path of young mother intersects with that of a spunky Sudanese student? God transforms them both . . .forever.
Part of New Hope® Publishers’ contemporary missional fiction line, Side by Side opens the reader’s eyes to the life of Muslims in Sudan as well as some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as pray for the salvation of those who persecute.
In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia’s life collides with that of another young woman. A young Christian American mother, Mia finds more than one dark secret on the streets of Khartoum. She finds Halimah, a young, upper-class Arab student with a bright future in her family’s business whose risky and secretive decision has put her life in danger. What happens when the path of young mother intersects with that of a spunky Sudanese student? God transforms them both . . .forever.
Part of New Hope® Publishers’ contemporary missional fiction line, Side by Side opens the reader’s eyes to the life of Muslims in Sudan as well as some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as pray for the salvation of those who persecute.

My thoughts: I was blown away by this book! I can imagine that it made it all the more realistic that it is based on real life events, since the author has been a missionary to several different countries on several continents. Her characters come alive with their struggles against the culture in present day Sudan. This book is a must read!
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Take ten

1. As Love Blooms
Nothing like jumping into the middle of the series!;)

2. Called to be Amish
Did you know that less than 100 people have converted to the Amish way of life since 1950?

3. The Art of Losing Yourself
Hurray! I loved her last book to pieces, so I am thrilled to get this one to review!

4. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest
I'm so excited to read this fairy tale!

5. Who's the New Kid?
This one looks interesting.

6.The Proposal at Siesta Key
I'm not as sure about this one.

7. Shadow of the Mountain
I'm looking forward to this Old Testament based story.

8. Liam Darcy, I Loathe You
Re-telling of Jane Austen? Yes please!

9. Ian Quicksilver
Another fun looking story, that looks more fantasy style.

10. The Tulip Resistance
I love the history of the Dutch Resistance during WWII, so this one should be good.

As you can see by my list, I wasn't really feeling like doing the Broke and Bookish choice for the week. It worked out that I just so happened to get 10 books in the mail today, so I figured I would put those on my list instead! What did you decide to do for the week? Did you have a hard time with the subject?

Friday, April 24, 2015

When Grace Sings

When trouble roars into quiet Arborville, Alexa and Anna-Grace find themselves the target for discord and exposed secrets. Can they continue to seek the God of all grace amidst the fog of confusion?

Alexa Zimmerman wonders if the Old Order Mennonite community in Arborville, Kansas will ever fully accept her. Her family roots here aren’t what anyone thought when she first arrived, but she is hopeful that her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over. The bed-and-breakfast she’s operating needs to succeed so Alexa agrees to allow Briley Forrester, the hotshot reporter from Chicago, to stay as a long-term boarder not knowing his real motives for being amongst the Plain folk.

But when Alexa agrees to host her cousin Anna-Grace Braun, the presence of extended family brings out Alexa’s insecurities and sets Briley on the trail to uncovering a web of hidden truths.

Plans for a secure future and the sweetness of young romance hang in the balance when Alexa and Anna-Grace have to face that their secrets are interconnected, binding the two in ways they could not have imagined. They must trust in a loving, heavenly Father and His plan for their futures.

My thoughts: Picking up where the first book in the series left off, the second starts with Alexa making a go of her Bed and Breakfast, which means opening it to a journalist who is in the Old Order Mennonite community under false pretenses. As she seeks to fit into her new family, Alexa also seeks to keep some secrets from coming to light, which only becomes harder when her cousin moves into the B&B as well.
I thought that the characters are well written, since I enjoyed their journey and also could see where they were coming from with their fears and how they interacted with one another. I also like the journey of faith that is in the story! The only thing I was disappointed about is that, while some things have a conclusion, a fair bit of the story will have to wait to find some resolution and answers in the next book. I suppose that is how life is though.;) We don't always get the story wrapped up in a "happily ever after". That said, this book is a delightful story and best read in order of the series.
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Magical Slow Cooker

Delicious home-cooked meals your family will love with almost no prep time—it's positively magical!

Grab your wand (or ladle) and get ready to whip up the healthiest, easiest-to-make food you'll ever eat. Full of wholesome ingredients and flavors you have to taste to believe, these meals are faster than the drive-thru and much cheaper too! You won't be able to resist

Raisin Bread French Toast Casserole
Country Scalloped Potatoes
Pork Carnitas
Pot Roast Dips with Horseradish Cream Sauce
Pumpkin Flan
Dozens of fantastic recipes for breakfasts, dinners, appetizers, and dessert, this cookbook is perfect for busy families.

Experience the magic of your slow cooker every day of the week!

My thoughts: I keep meaning to do more recipes in my crock pot, since it would be nice to just come home from a busy day and have dinner ready! So, I was thrilled to receive this book from Cedar Fort to review, since I was finally being motivated to get out the slow cooker and plan ahead!
While I have done some stews and soups in the crock pot, I haven't made a wide variety of things in it because I have just been kind of scared about trying to cook noodles and the like. This cookbook has a fun variety of recipes for busy women and picky eaters! I love that there are recipes for party food, breakfast, and desserts, all things I haven't tried to make in a slow cooker, but look forward to attempting.
The book is filled with fantastic recipes (my family has enjoyed several already!) that have easy to follow instructions, use basic ingredients, and taste great. Two thumbs up!
I received this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Take Ten

This week's Top Ten subject is top ten favorite authors. This one is really not fair, since it is so hard to narrow down the list! I shall do my best.

1. C.S. Lewis
I find it ironic that he has jumped to the top of my list, since I remember being sent the Chronicles of Narnia series over a period of birthdays and Christmases (by my dear uncle who didn't know what to send his preteen niece. Books are always a good option!) and complaining on how wordy his stories were. That was when I was only a few books in.;) I believe it was around the time that I read Voyage of the Dawn Treader that I decided Lewis was more than alright. lol. Narnia is one of the few series I have re-read!

2. Jane Austen
I tried to read Sense and Sensibility after hearing an older friend talk about how amazing the story was. I think I was an ambitious 11 year old at the time, and wound up putting the book aside for a few years, since I had to make long lists of words I didn't know (like fortnight) to look up in the dictionary and it was slow going.;) I'm glad I made it back to the story, years later, though Persuasion and Emma are probably my favorites.

3. Laura Ingalls Wilder
I received the complete series for Christmas before I could even read (I think my mom found it on sale;)), which kind of worked out, since there were pictures and I would sit and look at them for hours, imagining what the stories were about. This is the first series I ever read. I think having the set was a great motivator to learn how to read so I could figure out the stories behind the picturs.;)

4. Louisa May Alcott
Granted, it has been years since I last read one of her books, but I keep meaning to re-read her stories, since they were just so enjoyable as a young teen! I think re-reading them would remind me of the days when life was simpler, both in history and in my own life.;) (not that I would go back for anything! lol)

5. Elizabeth Camden
I don't always appreciate her perfectly handsome hero's, but her attention to historical detail is worth putting up with annoyingly handsome characters.;) (I prefer mine more boy next door-ish)

6. Julie Klassen
While I haven't loved every single book she has written, her last 3-4 have been quite enjoyable! They have been a wonderful mix of Austen and Gothic.

7. Lisa Wingate
Another author who I won't pretend to like every book she has ever penned, since I read one of her first books and didn't care for it. Other than that one, I have enjoyed her stories quite well! I love how her recent ones have a story going on in the past and then one in present day.

8. Nancy Mehl
Mennonite mysteries? Such a weird combination, or so I thought at first! Nancy makes them work, and work well. She writes such likeable characters, and always gives the reader a moral issue to think on.

9. Melanie Dobson
Okay, so I haven't read as many of her books as I would like to, but I have adored what I've taken the time to read! I really need to get my hands on some of her early books, since I have heard such great things about them.

10. Kristy Cambron
It seems like her books make it onto a lot of my lists. Perhaps because she does so well at bringing WWII to life. I can't recommend her books enough!

So, there is my list. I could go on, but I figured it would be best to stop at ten.;) Who made it onto your list?

The Perfect Fool

“I told the queen I would let you live, but I didn’t say in what condition. I’m very sorry, Farrago.” Kazim pulled a rope that I hadn’t noticed from his shoulder. It was attached to a clay jar I recognized. “I must break you.”

Plucked from the streets to become a court jester, Farrago’s life is simple and carefree. No one demands much of him, and that’s exactly how he likes it. But everything changes when Farrago begins flirting with a scullery maid named Thea. And when Farrago learns the truth about Thea’s identity, he must decide just how far he’s willing to go for the chance to follow his heart.

This quirky medieval tale is a fun and romantic read. With a charming balance of humor and suspense, it has a plot that’s full of twists and guaranteed to keep you guessing.

My thoughts: What a fun story! This book is a fun one that does keep you guessing till the very end. I very much enjoyed the characters and their story, which is a lovely medieval tale about a young orphan who grows into the court jester and goes on an impossible journey for the lady he loves. The humor is spot on and kept me laughing, but there is also some suspense as I tried to figure out how things could possibly turn out alright for Farrago. Two thumbs up!
I received this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

God, Me, and Sweet Ice Tea

Life is full of challenges that keep us from spending time with God, and hinder us from discovering his presence in our day-to-day activities. But He is always there, ready to pour out His blessings. If you desire to experience the reality of God in the everyday moments of life, this devotional journey is for you. God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea will help you find the strength you need to weather every storm and experience new mercies every day.

My thoughts: This short devotional is just the thing for a busy mom! Set up as 52 devotionals that are just 1-2 pages, this book is a wonderful, personal book where Rose Chandler Johnson shares thoughts and insight. I love her honesty, which makes it feel like one is sitting down with a good friend, talking about faith over some sweet tea.;) If you are looking for a devotional that will fit into a busy schedule and yet give you some food for thought, then this is the perfect one for you!
I received this devotional from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

The World Needs More Love Letters

I adore the title on this book! Filled with all in one stationery and envelopes, this book is a perfect one to have on hand to write notes to friends, family, and loved ones. The pages have gorgeous, modern designs on one side that is folded to be the envelope part, then a lined side for lovely notes to be written. I'm such a word nerd! My parents are moving, so I had to finally move the last of my childhood and high school items out of their house. When going through all the shoe boxes in my old closet, I found that I had saved most of the letters and notes I have received over the years. It was so much fun to go through them! (though it was a lot! lol) I'm especially glad that, when I realized my friendship with Andrew was going somewhere, that I asked him to switch from email to handwritten letters, since there is nothing sweeter than getting a handwritten note. So, I agree with the title. The world does need more love letters! This book is such a wonderful start to encourage those who have touched your life, from teachers to grandparents, mentors to friends. The world truly needs more love letters.
I received this book from

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Miracles in You

Did you know that you are a miracle? Or that your life can be a miracle to people around you or even on the other side of the world?

Inspired by the powerful, true stories in The Miracles in You, you will begin noticing the amazing wonders in everyday life. And you'll see how God works His miracles through ordinary people–including you!

—Mark Victor Hansen, #1 New York Times Best-Selling Author of Chicken Soup For The Soul

My thoughts: I think we sometimes take the miracles around us for granted. The little miracles that are in the everyday living and even the bigger ones, where someone reaches out in our hour of need or there is an unexplained happy outcome when the circumstances were looking dire. Things that can only be explained as miracles. This book is an excellent, encouraging collection of just so stories that will open your eyes to those miracles that have been in your life and in those around you. Easy to read and enjoyable, this book is a great read!
I received this book from Worthy in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Maggie Bright

England, 1940. Clare Childs knew life would change when she unexpectedly inherited the Maggie Bright—a noble fifty-two-foot yacht. In fact, she’s counting on it. But the boat harbors secrets. When a stranger arrives, searching for documents hidden onboard, Clare is pulled into a Scotland Yard investigation that could shed light on Hitler’s darkest schemes and prompt America to action.

Across the Channel, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg has the entire British army in retreat with little hope for rescue at the shallow beaches of Dunkirk. With time running out, Churchill recruits civilian watercraft to help. Hitler is attacking from land, air, and sea, and any boat that goes might not return. Yet Clare knows Maggie Bright must answer the call—piloted by an American who has refused to join the war effort until now and a detective with a very personal motive for exposing the truth.

The fate of the war hinges on this rescue. While two men join the desperate fight, a nation prays for a miracle.

My thoughts: I love Tracy Groot's stories! She had proved to be a versatile and eclectic writer, which is one I appreciate. From stories set in Biblical times (I was blown away by Madman!) to more recent history, such as this one. Her books are well researched and her characters come alive, making the stories hard to put down! I love that her books are so well detailed and researched, making events that I didn't know much about interesting to read on. This book is a wonderful story of faith and redemption during a dark time in history. I highly recommend it for readers who enjoy historical fiction!
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.


Kerana is being sent to Earth to begin her duty as an Eldurian. Hers are a perfect people, without flaw and without sin, never experiencing the fall of man. Created by God to shepherd His people on Earth, they remain in the shadows, unnoticed. Kerana looks human, speaks like them, and has been taught to act like them. Above all her mission is to serve the humans.

Arriving on Earth, Kerana meets Eli at school. He is an ordinary human, with a father suffering from alcoholism, and a past that threatens to ruin his life. A star scholarship lacrosse player, Eli has to forget his true passion and live in a shell that doesn’t let anyone in. Until he meets Kerana. They find themselves intertwined in a connection that neither can quite explain. When this connection puts the two of them in danger, they find comfort and protection from each other. When Eli discovers that there is more to Kerana than just her stunning looks and grace, the Eldurians and their home planet of Eden may not remain a secret for very long.

My thoughts: I never know what to expect from new authors. Sometimes it is a lot of hype, only to disappoint, while other times the quality of the story and characters blows me away. This book falls into the latter category! From the get go, it pulled me in, as the reader is introduced to the Eldurians, a race that lives in Eden and serves as guardians to the humans. When Kerana is sent to earth for her time as a guardian, things change for all of Eden.
I like the concept of another race, and I think that Kate did a fabulous job of making them unique and explaining their differences from humans. I like the little peaks we get into their lives and how they interact with humans. This is a fun, sweet story that is great for a variety of ages, since it is nice and clean. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy! I appreciate that it leaves off where you wonder what happens next, but this part of the story wraps up nicely.
I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Crave. Eat. Heal.

After struggling for many years with a raging sweet tooth and emotionally-driven cravings, author Annie Oliverio began the journey back to a healthy, balanced palate. This is a cookbook focused on plant-based foods that protect, nourish, and heal – yet satisfy “cravings” that can easily trip one up when striving to eat healthier foods or when feeling lonely, stressed or in the need of comfort.

My thoughts: I've been thinking of going refines sugar free for a bit now, since I can have quite the sweet tooth. So, I was thrilled to see this cookbook come up for review! I love that Annie Oliverio offers 144 recipes that are free of refined sugar, oil (or most of them are) and are either gluten free or have a GF option. I love that her recipes give one new ideas for what to do with more unique foods, showing the nutritional benefits of diversifying in our diets more.
This cookbook is a keeper!
I received this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

About the Author: If there is an unnamed, undiagnosed condition where one suffers from planning, thinking about, and anticipating future breakfasts, lunches, and dinners while eating breakfast, lunch, or dinner, then I have it. And I don’t want to be cured. But I wouldn’t be opposed to having this ailment named after me.

I was fortunate to be raised in a home with two excellent cooks: my mom and dad. Mom covered the basics of breakfasts, lunches in brown paper bags, and a square meal at night. She also covered Thanksgiving and Easter dinners. Dad took over on Christmas Eve or whenever an ingredient—be it a stinky cheese or olives or eggplant or artichokes or polenta—caught his fancy. Sauce splatters and piles of pots and pans in the sink were guaranteed. Between mom and dad, my three siblings and I ate eclectically and well.

My own culinary journey got off to a rocky start when I began living on my own post-college. I went for convenience and speed (and sugary, fatty, salty) rather than quality. Slowly, however, I began buying more fresh and whole foods to make my own meals. At the same time, I was learning about what foods are best for our bodies. Long story short, my plodding and indirect journey led me to plant-based eating. I no longer rely on packaged, frozen, or prepared meals, and instead make everything we need right here in our own kitchen.

What about the non-food part of my life? Before escaping the mean city streets for the wild, windy plains of Oklahoma, I was an administrative assistant and office manager at a subscription fulfillment company in Boulder, at a think-tank in Santa Monica, at a university in Cambridge, MA, in the Green Zone in Baghdad, and at a non-profit in Washington, D.C.

I now spend a good deal of time walking the pastures trying to identify different types of grasses and insects, feeding hummingbirds, writing and reading, struggling to solve crossword puzzles (with a pen and a lot of Wite-Out), and blogging at An Unrefined Vegan and Virtual Vegan Potluck. I live in blissful satellite- and cable-free isolation with my husband, Kel, and our only son, Ike (part dachshund, part Labrador).

The Pharaoh's Daughter

You will be called Anippe, daughter of the Nile. Do you like it?” Without waiting for a reply, she pulls me into her squishy, round tummy for a hug.
I’m trying not to cry. Pharaoh’s daughters don’t cry.
When we make our way down the tiled hall, I try to stop at ummi Kiya’s chamber. I know her spirit has flown yet I long for one more moment. Amenia pushes me past so I keep walking and don’t look back.
Like the waters of the Nile, I will flow.

Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives—women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.
When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.
As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan—for them all?

My thoughts: This story is such an interesting, historical tale! I love how Mesu Andrew's weaves what we know about the time of Moses and fiction into one seamless story that is hard to put down! I love how Mesu brings out the history behind our beloved Bibles stories that we have grown up, but puts them in a new light that gets the reader to see the stories we take for granted through a whole new light.
The characters in this book are interesting. I also found it fascinating how the Egyptians viewed their Pharaoh, which is evident in this story, since it starts before Anippe's brother becomes pharaoh.
If you enjoy Biblical based fiction, this book is a wonderful one!
I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Take Ten

1. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

2."Not all those who wander are lost" The Fellowship of the Ring

3. “It isn't Narnia, you know," sobbed Lucy. "It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?"
"But you shall meet me, dear one," said Aslan.
"Are -are you there too, Sir?" said Edmund.
"I am," said Aslan. "But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

4. "We none of us expect to be in smooth water all our days." Persuasion


6. "You can't get around what's right, though. When we stop loving them, that's when they win." Black Like Me

7. “Men of sense, whatever you may choose to say, do not want silly wives.” Emma

8.“I cannot make speeches, Emma...If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me. I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.” Emma

9. "We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. T.S. Eliot

10. "How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it." George Eliot

This one has to be one of the easiest lists for me, since I collect the quotes I like.;) I have for years, starting with a little notebook that I would jot them down in, then moving on to just writing them on the inside flaps of my journals, so I could enjoy them time and again. It was hard to keep it at ten!

Pure Food

Bring more whole, real ingredients into your kitchen and replace processed foods with the 120 plant-based recipes in Pure Food.

A busy mother of three who was frustrated with trying to find healthy, organic snacks for her kids, Veronica Bosgraaf decided to make one herself, the Pure Bar. Now nationally available and widely beloved, the bar kick started a nutrition overhaul in Veronica’s home. Clean foods and a new, simple way of cooking and eating replaced anything overly processed and loaded with sugar.
Organized by month to take advantage of seasonal produce, Pure Food shares Veronica’s easy vegetarian recipes, many of which are vegan and gluten-free, too.

• January: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Winter Garlic and Vegetable Stew, Chocolate Rice Pudding
• April: Asparagus with Turmeric-Spiced Almonds, Egg Noodles with Wild Mushrooms and Spring Greens, Roasted Cauliflower with Quinoa and Cashews
• July: Watermelon Mint Salad, Grilled Garlic and Summer Squash Skewers with Chimichurri, The Perfect Veggie Burger
• November: Caramelized Pear Muffins, Parsnip and Thyme Cream Soup, Wild Rice and Pecan Stuffing

With 18 color photographs and tips for "cleaning" your kitchen and lifestyle—from drying your own herbs to getting rid of chemical cleaners—Pure Food shows the simple steps you can take to make your cooking and living more healthful.

My thoughts: It's no secret around here that my husband and I kind of went crazy on starting plants for our garden this year, trying new varieties and plants, as well as just expanding the garden a lot more than it has been in years previous. So, this cookbook has come at the perfect time! I love how it is split up into months and centers around the fresh produce that is commonly available at that time. If you have a garden, are a member of a CSA, or just enjoy supporting your local farmers markets, then this is a wonderful resource for you! I love that the recipes are easy to follow and that they don't require one to run out and totally restock one's pantry with a bunch of ingredients that you will just use for one recipe (that is kind of a pet peeve of mine. lol). Instead, these recipes are kid and adult friendly! The perfect place to start for cooking more wholesome dishes.
I received this book from Blogging for books in exchange for my honest review.

A Heart's Obsession

Can a woman held captive by her family make it back to the one man she knows she can trust?

When Sarah Montgomery's father succumbs to his long illness, Sarah is faced with a life-altering choice: submit to her brother's will and marry the deceptive Ben Croftner . . . or escape through the dangerous American West to reclaim the heart of her beloved Rand Campbell at Fort Laramie, Wyoming.

From captivity in her family's home, Sarah makes her decision-and begins the perilous journey to Wyoming by train.

But even in the company of Rand's brother, Sarah does not receive the reception she had hoped for. The necessity of a military wife has preempted her, and Rand is already engaged to Jessica DuBois, the seductive daughter of the post commander.

With her heart broken and her life in ruins, Sarah has no choice but to remain at Fort Laramie and try to win Rand back. But things will get tougher before they get easier . . . the obsessive Ben Croftner has just shown up in Wyoming.

My thoughts: Sarah and Rand have a hard time getting things right. After Rand comes home from the Civil War to find his sweetheart engaged to another man, he takes off to Fort Laramie. When Sarah's father passes away, she feels like she can finally follow Rand, only to find that he has found love elsewhere. But, she can still help others on the frontier. When her former fiance and enemy, Ben, shows up, she must make some choices to help protect those she loves.
This is a complicated story! I'm curious to see how it unfolds, since it has some interesting twists and turns. I also find the historical side of the story interesting! The only thing I am not sold on is some of the characters and the way they seem to move on so quickly.
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Beyond Orange County

When Lydia McLaughlin made the controversial choice to walk away from her popular role on The Real Housewives of Orange County, she had two good reasons: faith and family

In Beyond Orange County, Lydia writes about the strength and grace it takes for each of us to choose a life of purpose. She also shares behind-the-scenes insights from Hollywood, lessons she has learned both on and off the screen, and what her life looks like now that she’s following God on His next adventure for her. Most importantly, she inspires us to examine our own lives and live out boldly the unique calling God has for each of us.

“I can guarantee you that God wants to use you,” Lydia encourages. “He has a plan for you and desires to take you on a great adventure with Him. He loves you and knows you. We must be courageous and rooted and established in His love to live boldly for Christ!”

Includes questions after each chapter for individual reflection or group discussion.

My thoughts: I was rather surprised by this book! Lydia's writing is like sitting down with a girlfriend to talk, it was very refreshing. I loved how she wove scriptures and Bible stories into her own life story. Her book does a nice job of giving an overview of her life and then her role in the reality TV show, Orange County Housewives. The only thing I would of liked better would of been if she gave a bit more details about some things like her courtship with her husband (since I'm a hopeless romantic and she basically just said that she knew he was the man for her and he couldn't even remember her name, at first!).;) I did think that she had some wonderful thoughts on her college days, about how hard it is (as a Christian) to leave the community you established as a high school student. How it can be easy to not keep up with your relationship with the Lord when you take away your support group. I think it would be great to encourage Christian kids who go off to college to find a support group.
Anyway, I thought this book was wonderful, and liked that it isn't so much about her time on reality TV as it is about her relationship with the Lord.
I received this book from First Look in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Against the Flow

A wide-ranging discussion of the place of Christianity in the public square

Daniel’s story is one of extraordinary faith in God lived out at the pinnacle of executive power. It tells of four young men, born in the tiny state of Judah around 500 b.c., and captured by Nebuchadnezzar, emperor of Babylon. Daniel describes how they eventually rose to senior positions of administration.

Daniel and his friends did not simply maintain their private devotion to God; they maintained a high-profile witness in a pluralistic society antagonistic to their faith. Their story carries a powerful message for us today. Society tolerates the practice of Christianity in private and in church services, but increasingly it deprecates public witness. If Daniel and his compatriots were with us today they would be in the vanguard of public debate.

This is a lucid and erudite examination of the life of Daniel from a leading expert on faith and science. In his first biblical work, Dr. Lennox provides a unique perspective on both Western society and biblical exegesis that will make Against the Flow an instant classic encouraging Christians to speak out in our modern Babylon.
My thoughts: This book does a wonderful job of going through the book of Daniel and how it is relevant for us today. Highlighting the history that the book goes over, this book is a fabulous resource for history buffs, whether you are a Christian or not. I found it interesting how relevant a lot of the book is for us today, something I have known about, but haven't really studied in depth.
I received this book from Lit Fuse in exchange for my honest review.

God of the Big Bang

Have you ever wondered, as I have, how to reconcile the seemingly different viewpoints of science and faith in light of life’s biggest questions: God of the Big Bang is for people who are skeptical of faith, who fully believe science is the only way to know anything. And it’s for faithful believers who distrust science and are suspect of its “motives.” But it’s also for everyone in between these two extremes who may be confused and are most likely put off by all the combative and nonproductive communication on the topic.

My hope is that by offering thoughtful consideration of these two separate but connected ways of knowing, this book will promote the kind of constructive dialog that tears down the wall between science and faith that so many have fabricated. And in the process, you’ll recognize more of the God, who is big enough to encompass both sides of the discussion.
My thoughts: Written by someone who has been immersed in the science world, this book is the perfect combination of science and layman information. It is an easy to read book that sets to prove the existence of God and how science proves that He created the world, just as the Bible states in Genesis. Dr. Wickman does a wonderful job of breaking the science behind our world down and explaining it, using sources from Darwin to Pascal, Galileo to Bacon, along with plenty of modern day scientist. This is an excellent book for those interested in science and how it works with Christianity!
I received this book from Worthy publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Sparrow in Terezin

Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor’s story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.

Present Day—With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairytale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels she’s stumbled into a charmed life—until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy the perfectly planned future she’s planned before it even begins. Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future.

1942—Kája Makovsky narrowly escaped occupied Prague in 1939, and was forced to leave her half-Jewish family behind. Now a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in England, Kája discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, Kája has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.

Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kája must cling to the faith that sustains and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

My thoughts: I started looking forward to this book as soon as I finished The Butterfly and the Violin! Unfortunately, I had to wait a year to have the pleasure.;) But, it was well worth the wait! Kristy Cambron brings us another beautiful story set both during WWII and in the present. Sera James has just married her sweetheart when their world comes crashing down and she is asked to trust him, while legal charges mount. In the past, as Prague falls to the Nazi's, Kaja's family risks everything to get her and her sister out. When Kaja learns that her whole family will not be fleeing with her, she promises herself that she will come back for them.
This is such a beautiful story! I couldn't put it down, since I just had to find out what was going to happen to Sera, William, and Kaja. I like how old characters are brought back, some of their stories are told more fully in this book, while new characters are introduced. I highly recommend this series!
I received this book from Litfuse in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

For Love of Money by Terri Blackstock Trying to launch her own design firm while waitressing on the side, Julie Sheffield was drawn to the kind man she waited on at the restaurant last night . . . until he stiffed her on the tip by leaving her half of a sweepstakes ticket.

The Recipe by Candace Calvert Hospital dietary assistant Aimee Curran is determined to win the Vegan Valentine Bake-Off to prove she’s finally found her calling. But while caring for one of her patients—the elderly grandmother of a handsome CSI photographer—Aimee begins to question where she belongs.

Hook, Line & Sinker by Susan May Warren Grad student Abigail Cushman has agreed to enter the annual Deep Haven fishing contest. She’s a quick learner, even if she doesn’t know the difference between a bass and a trout. But nothing could prepare her for competing against the handsome charmer she’s tried to forget since grief tore them apart.

One chance for each woman to change her life . . . but will love be the real prize?

My thoughts: Sometimes, it is nice to have a book of novellas on hand. They are great to read when you are short on time! Which, describes my reading life right now, with our garden going in and a busy toddler who takes advantage of mama's attention being elsewhere (which means, no time for a lot of reading during the day!). So, this book came at the perfect time. I love the return to Deep Haven in Hook, Line, and Sinker. Both Susan and Terri are among my favorite authors! I enjoyed Candace Calvert's story and will have to look into more of her bookd.
Whether life is crazy busy or you have gobs of reading time on your hands, this is a fun book of stories!
I received this book from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Take ten

This week, the Broke and Bookish subject is ten characters I would want to check up on. You know, to see how they fared after their adventure wrapped up.;)

1. Anne Elliot from Persuasion
She is just so sweet and likeable! It would be fun to see how she fared ten years after the story ended. I bet she has several children and is still as kind as ever.;)

2. Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen's Emma
While not as sweet of a character as Anne, I bet we would find that marriage and motherhood suits Emma, since it has probably softened her selfishness.

3. Jo March of Little Women
We get to catch up with her in Little Men, but she has always been a favorite.

4. Katniss Everdeen
Because really, what happens after everything calms down?

5. Elara
6. Wilha both from The Princess in the Opal Mask
I enjoyed both girls in this story! It would be fun to catch up with them and se how their royal duties are going.

7. Samantha Moore from Dear Mr. Knightley
One of my favorite stories! I would love a sequel. ;)

8. Raine from The Dandelion Field
There is so much more to this story! Especially after the baby is born.:)

9.Abigail from Paper Hearts
I love the main characters in this story! I can sympathize with her struggles with owning a business and would love to see how that is going.

10. Raina from Always on My Mind
I didn't think I would love this book as much as I did. I'm looking forward to the peaks at her continuing story as the rest of the series comes out.

So, there is my list! Are any of your favorites on here? Who should I of included?

13 Women You Should Never Marry

Instead of being a how to guide, this book serves as a wonderful guide for men on the type of women to watch out for. All of us have our flaws, but Mary Colbert does a wonderful job of amplifying those flaws in her examples to show men what types of women to run the other way from. I like that at the end of each chapter about the personality, she gives a list of things that should be red flags, caution signs, and then the characteristics of a virtuous woman in comparison, so that men looking for love, and their friends/family can help see the signs. This book is a fun one to read! Even though I don't have any sons yet, I hope to someday, so I was reading this from more of a mother's point of view. I think there is still a lot of good information in here for women, since I am sure most of us can relate to some of these women. This book is a great reference for those looking for a marriage that will be well suited and last a lifetime. I very much enjoyed Mary's way of writing, since she didn't try to make herself look amazing in the process.;) Two thumbs up!
If you are interested in seeing what the 13 women are like, check out this article.
I received this book from Worthy in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Enough Already

Recognize your own outer and inner beauty as defined by God, not the media or others.

Most women know that God loves them, but might he love them more if they finally lost that last ten pounds, or got their hair to lay right, or finally found a pair of jeans that looked good and let them breathe? Well, maybe God doesn’t care about jeans, but women do, and all the talk about inner beauty hasn’t kept all of us from staring into a mirror and taking an inventory that never quite measures up. Enough Already will:

—Elevate the soul-freeing, spiritual truth that God is the Creator of beauty and that women are called to appreciate and care for themselves as his own.
—Enable women to accept God-given beauty so that when they look in the mirror they see his handiwork, not their flaws.
—Equip women to win the ugly struggle with beauty once and for all.

My thoughts: Most, if not all, of us struggle with insecurities about our physical appearance. With humor and personal experience, Barbara address those and encourages women to see God’s masterpieces, rather than the flaws. I love how she instantly puts readers at ease, with her sense of humor. This is a great book for women everywhere!
I received this book from Lit fuse in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Buried Secrets

After seven years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant has hit a wall. Ready for a kinder, gentler life, she takes a job as a small-town police chief. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town taxes the resources of her department. A call for assistance brings detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL, to her doorstep. As they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn't want this dead person telling any tales—and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

My thoughts: Irene Hannon's mysteries are always a fun, easy to pick up read. I enjoy that she draws readers in from the very start, and that her books are easy to get through in an evening/late night or over a couple of days. This is a huge plus, since they are hard to put down!
"Buried Secrets" is no exception. The story sucks readers in from the get go and keeps on turning pages until the very satisfying end.
The characters are fun to get to know in this story, and I'm thrilled that they will most likely make appearances in the rest of the series!
If you would like to read an excerpt, check out the author's site
I received this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

A Mother's Greatest Gift

You don't need to be an expert to be a good mom; you just need the Lord's help. Learn how to seek out the best parenting Guide the Holy Ghost in this insightful and inspiring book. With personal stories, research, and interviews, this is every mother's must-read handbook for finding answers and keeping the Spirit in her home.

My thoughts: There is nothing like becoming a parent and realizing that you really don't have a lot of the answers like you thought. That is where a strong relationship with God comes in, to help guide parents in raising their children! With helpful insight, Scripture verses, and LDS literature to back up her points, Heidi Poelman offers encouragement to mothers. I enjoyed her thoughts on the power of a mother's prayer, as well as her honesty about those times God doesn't answer our prayers. This is a wonderful resource and source of encouragement for mothers! While it is geared towards LDS women, it would be encouraging to any mother.
I received this book from Cedar Fort in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Finding Me by Kathryn Cushman

A Contemporary Drama of Family Lies and Forgotten Loves

After her father and stepmother’s accidental death, Kelli Huddleston sorts through their belongings and learns a shocking secret. Years before, her father faked his death during a boat wreck at sea–and faked Kelli’s as well. He’d run from a wife, a son, and a daughter back in Tennessee, meaning Kelli has a family she’s never known.

She’s already cashed the payout on her dad’s life insurance check and looks at it as her ticket to a new life. The lure and puzzle of digging into this hidden past is too much to resist, and she soon finds herself in Tennessee. When the trip threatens to open doors to the past better left shut, and her plans for the future are threatened, Kelli must make an agonizing choice that will change her life forever.

My thoughts : I was thrilled to receive this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review! The story opens with Kelli picking up the pieces after a fatal car accident killed her dad and step mother. As she sifts through their things, she discovers that her father lived a lie. As she puts the pieces together, she discovers family she thought had been lost.
What an interesting story! The mystery drew me in from the get go and I had a hard time putting the story down! While some may be able to figure out early on what happened, the story still has a lot going on. The characters are wonderful and I thought the story had some well written discussions on faith, especially considering what the characters go through.
Two thumbs up!