Friday, June 16, 2017

Almost There

     BOOK REVIEW:   On the move....again? Wondering when you will "arrive"?    The impermanence of home tends to be one of life's most recurring surprises. Is it possible to build a permanent  sense of home in a rootless life? If home is where the heart is, what can we love that will quiet the restlessness within?
     Take heart. You aren't adrift after all. When our hope of home is rooted in an unchangeable God, we are not uprooted, lost, or made homeless by change. We become found ones on the move.

     MY REVIEW:   Bekah Defilice is the wife of a former marine, and this book tells of their lives during those years. The theme is most especially focused on making a home amidst all the moving.
     I love how Bekah tells of finding God and His mercy in the trials and joys of those years. It's almost as though she is discovering and pondering them as she tells them. For example:

  • I wonder, too, if God doesn't use this sort of transience to draw us to Himself, if He doesn't occasionally wring out the things we don't want to give him, in order to expose all the ways we don't trust Him. 
  • It seems to me that the good news of the gospel gets even better for those on the move, because God gave us family that traverses geography, a community of people that all call the same person Father. 
  • And in between the cracks of our insufficient tries were prayers that banked on the hope that God, in His own mysterious sufficiency, could hold us together far better than we knew how to do ourselves. 
     She also finds many lessons in the challenges she faced. I would write some here, but they seem to be evading me. :(   Bother. 
     I really enjoyed reading about the life of a marine wife. Having to move every three or so years, husband leaving on deployments of six to twelve months, finally learning how to live independently only to learn how to share with a husband again, and many more. 
     I really enjoyed reading this book---it is only 168 pages, which makes it feel short and sweet with no time for it to get dry. And of course, the cover only adds to the effect. :) 

      I received a copy of this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 
     

   

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Freedom's Price

     BOOK REVIEW:   Sometimes the hardest step to take is the first step forward.   When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her father and her home in 1856, she decided to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother's family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships.
     When Catherine arrives at the plantation, she finds that her family has left it in the care of a manager---who's let it fall into disrepair. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom and beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice: grip their dreams ever tighter or step forward in faith---even if it costs them everything.

     MY REVIEW:  This book is the third in Christine Johnson's Keys of Promise series. I didn't have a problem following the story, so apparently one needn't read the books in order.
      While I didn't dislike this book, it didn't make my favorites list or even my second favorites list. I think the main thing I didn't like was the character's stubbornness---each was too busy trying to reach their own personal goal that they didn't think ahead or of the other person or even of their own safety
     This book definitely has a strain of mystery, but I found it rather easy to figure out, which only made it annoying when the characters couldn't figure it out on their own.
     One point in it's favor, is Catherine's determination to help the children she finds as she embarks on her mission. She almost heedlessly helps them, putting their lives above hers.

   I received a copy of this book from REVELL per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Lifestyle of a Watchman

     BOOK REVIEW:   What does it mean to be a "watchman on the wall"?   Join respected prophetic leader James W. Goll for a powerful, 21-day journey into the heart of being a watchman---a mature intercessor called to war, to be at the ready, alert to the presence and plan of God and confident of His will. With reflection questions, devotional prayers and practical applications, this book will help you move to the front lines of prayer. You will learn how to
  • discern the spiritual atmosphere around you
  • discover the strategies of God for specific times
  • find your assignment
  • pray more effectively for others and the nation
  • understand how to intercede for current events
  • partner with heaven and step boldly into your calling
Embark on this journey of faith, and become the strong sentinel that God created you to be!


     MY REVIEW:   This book is divided into 21 chapters for 21 days. Each chapter is centered on a different aspect of prayer. 
     One thing I especially like about this book is the amount of Bible verses found in the pages. I always like when authors draw their points from the Bible and then show us they did. 
     One illustration given early in the book is taking Christians united in prayer and comparing them to an orchestra---all parts working together to make a beautiful sound. Each on his own is lovely to hear, but all together they are infinitely better. 
     James W. Goll has written several books in addition to this one, a few of which are "The Prophetic Intercessor", "The Lifestyle of a Prophet", and "A Radical Faith". 

   I received a copy of this book from CHOSEN per their blogger program, and was not required to write a positive review. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Under A Summer Sky

    BOOK REVIEW:   She's anticipating a quiet summer surrounded by beauty. She never expected a fresh chance of love. High school art teacher Nicole Anderson is looking forward to a relaxing summer in Savannah, house-sitting and managing an art gallery for a family friend. The house in luxurious in a way that only old money could make it, and the gallery promises interesting days in a gorgeous setting. Yet it isn't long before her ideal summer turns into more than she bargained for: a snooty gallery employee who's determined to force her out, a displaced adolescent roosting in the attic, and two of her childhood friends---who also happen to be brothers---vying for her attention.
     With the backdrop of a gorgeous historical city, incredible architecture, and even an alleged ghost or two, combined with the opportunity for romance. . .anything can happen.



     MY REVIEW:   Under A Summer Sky is the third book in Melody Carlson's "Follow Your Heart" series. I found it to be a little predictable and shallow. Nicole offers to run an art gallery and house sit for her mother's old friend, and just happens to run into the friend's son whom Nicole liked when she was younger. And of course, the younger brother whom she ignored is there as well and suddenly she likes him too.
     One thing I did like about the book was Nicole's love for teenagers. She taught art in school, and was obviously very close to her students. When a needy teen appears, Nicole is willing to devote time and energy to help her.
     Another thing I liked about the book was Nicole's response to her new co-worker. Rather than fighting with, she tries to befriend her.
   
I received a copy of this book from REVELL per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Whisper on the Wind

    BOOK REVIEW:   Belgium, 1916.   The German Imperial Army may have conquered Belgium on its march through Europe, but it can't crush their spirit. An underground newspaper surfaces to keep patriotism alive and bring hope and real news of the war to the occupied country. It may be a whisper among the shouts of the German army, but it's a thorn in their side nonetheless, and Edward Kirkland will do anything to keep it in print---even risk his life.
    Isa Lassone's family fled Europe at the first rumblings of war. Now, two years later, she sneaks back across enemy lines, determined to rescue Edward---the man she has loved from afar since she was a child. But will he ever see her as more than the wealthy, silly girl his mother once cared for as a daughter?
    When Edward refuses to leave, so does Isa, and soon she is drawn into his dangerous double life. As the Germans close in, Edward realizes he's put more at risk than he'd planned. . . . .especially the beautiful, smart, yet obstinate young woman who has inconveniently managed to work her way into his life---and into his heart.

    MY REVIEW:   Have you ever wondered at the power we give words? Nothing but mere words on paper can keep us up at night, perched on the edge of our chairs, frantically biting nails to see what happens next. Humorously exaggerated picture, yes, but some books are like that---we can't wait to see what's on the next page.
    I wouldn't say this book was quite in that category, but it came close. The story was written well and kept one interested, but something was just a bit off, like it needed an extra stitch of something.
    If I were able to change one thing in this book, I would have Isa gone for closer to five years. Leaving at 16 and arriving at 18 just doesn't seem long enough to "grow up" as much as Isa thinks she has. I think 14 to 18 would be more realistic. But really, there wasn't anything big I could see needing changed, just a few minute details here and there.
    I don't read a lot about the World Wars, I guess because I prefer to read about happier times. I see a book set in those times and automatically look for a different one. But for whatever reason, I read this one. And I'm glad I did.
    I will say, the ending of the book disappointed me a little. So many things are left rather hanging. Oh, nothing serious, but enough to make a person wonder. Did so and so ever meet? Were these people conspiring together? Was this person a spy? Who was the spy? What happened directly afterwards for the main characters? Etc.
    Whisper on the Wind is the second book in Maureen Lang's GREAT WAR SERIES, the first book being Look to the East and the third being Springtime of the Spirit. I haven't read either of the others, but hope to before too long. This book didn't seem to need an accompaniment, but maybe after reading the others I'll change my mind. :)
 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Jefferson's America

   BOOK REVIEW:   History comes alive in this entertaining account of Thomas Jefferson's unrivaled age of American exploration.   At the dawn of the nineteenth century, as Britain, France, Spain, and the United States all jockeyed for control of the vast expanses west of the Mississippi River, war between any of these four powers was expected at any moment. To preserve America's foothold in the West, Jefferson played a game of strategy---putting into the field the only Americans he could: an eccentric cadre of explorers who finally annexed the land through courageous investigation.
    Jefferson most famously recruited Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, but there were others who did the same work in places where it was even more crucial. William Dunbar, George Hunter, Thomas Freeman, Peter Custis, and the dauntless Zebulon Pike---all were dispatched on urgent missions to map the frontier, and each helped to unite the fast-growing nation.
    Told with great narrative verve, Jefferson's America rediscovers these seminal expeditions and illuminates the president's vision for a continental America.

    MY REVIEW:   While I enjoyed reading this book, it was one of those that never ended. It took me a bit to get into it as well. Finally, around the middle of the book I started remembering what was happening and looking forward to what was ahead. If I hadn't been in a hurry to finish the book I think I would have enjoyed it more.
    I can't imagine what life was like for those explorers---traveling and mapping a land that no other American had ever visited, without the tools and such we have today. It seems a dauntless and difficult task. And yet, for king and country (well, President and country) they faced the unknown and went were no American ever had.
    Some of the adventures these explorers had were quite interesting. Lewis and Clark heard of the great, indomitable grizzly bears, and decided to see one for themselves. They tracked them and searched for them but never saw anything but tracks. Finally after killing a young cub, they were rather unipressed with how easily it succumbed to them. Their disappointment, however, was short lived, and as they encountered full-grown bears that seemed impervious to rifle shots, a healthy fear set in. :)
    Other adventures were William Dunbar and George Hunter as they spent months trying to sail a heavy boat through shallow water; Zebulon Pike marching for days to reach a mountain, but being forced to turn back---such was the infamous Pike's Peak; and of course, the Red River trip, which, while failing its original objective, managed to set a definate western border to the Lousianna Purchase.
   
    I received a copy of this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS per their blogger program, and was not required to write a positive review. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bread of Angels

  BOOK REVIEW:     Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.
     But before she becomes Lydia, the seller of purple, she is simply a merchant's daughter who loves three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.
     With only her father's secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish a business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances---along with her father's precious dye formula---help her become one of the city's preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the Apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming the first Christian in all of Europe. Still, Lydia can't outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

  MY REVIEW:     Tessa Afshar is one of my favorite authors. She has written six books with this one, and the three that I have read I have loved. They are all Biblical Fiction. Two are about Rahab and Ruth respectively, but the other four books are on less well-known characters. The last review of hers I posted was Land of Silence, about the woman who touched the hem of Jesus' skirt and was healed by faith. This book was written about Lydia, a seller of purple and a convert of Paul's.
     We don't know a lot about Lydia so the bulk of this story is made up. However, when Paul is introduced, there are several events taking place that can be found in Acts 16. For instance: verse 9 when Paul is called by vision to Macedonia; verses 13-15 when Paul and his companions spoke with the group of women worshiping by the river and Lydia is converted and baptized; verses 16-18 when Paul commanded the spirit leave the possessed damsel; verses 19-25 when her masters rose up against Paul and had him and Silas beaten and imprisoned; verses 26-34 when the earthquake loosed all the chains and the jailer was converted; verses 35-40 when Paul tells the magistrate of his and Silas' being Romans and being freed.
     Tessa portrays Lydia as a woman struggling with past betrayal and fear. She meets Rebekah, a young Jewess, and invites her along to Philippi. Together they build a prosperous business, with the help of several influential friends. However, there is one rival of theirs who is set on destroying them. Lydia is forced to overcome her fear and trust in God.
     This book jumps from Lydia at sixteen losing her father and going to Philippi and struggling to build a business, to twenty years later running a successful business. This is when Paul is introduced. I never thought of Lydia as much older than thirty at the most, but here she is near forty.
     I really enjoyed this book---I wasn't at all disappointed (except for her being older than I thought, of course, but that's a trivial thing, really). I am hoping there are many more books in store from Tessa.

     I received this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS per their blogger program and was not required to write a positive or otherwise review. 
   

Saturday, May 6, 2017

There's A Fly in My Tea

     BOOK REVIEW:    Your life can be refreshing---to you and to others!   It's true! Despite your flaws and imperfections, your life can bring sweet comfort, joy and blessing to those around you. Each of us have some "flies"---those unhealthy, unproductive, even gross things-k-that creep into our lives and cause us to lose some of our flavor. But be encouraged. This study will help you discover Biblical Truths which will allow you to live a more flavorful and more satisfying life, like a cold glass of tea on a hot summer day. Ahhhh!
    In There's A Fly in My Tea, we'll take a fresh, vulnerable look at the ways we let those pesky flies of doubt, frustration, fear, and bitterness creep into our lives and spoil our testimony. We'll look at the life of Peter, a man who definitely allowed some flies into his life, and learn how our own lives can be used as a sweet savor to the Lord and those around us.

    MY REVIEW:   This book is based on the life of Peter. It can be for anyone, but is geared for women. The focus is maintaining a godly witness in our lives.
    The first thing I liked about this book was the title. The second was the cover. It's a simple, straightforward example of the unappealingness of a Christian who is not living for Christ. We don't know how quickly others see things that we think are hidden or inconsequential.
    The next thing I liked about the book was all the references used. Each chapter begins by naming the passage from which it is based, and throughout the chapter are many supporting verses.
    At the end of each chapter (there are 11) there are a few questions to be answered. I found that to be very helpful---it makes one think about what they've read and how they align with it.
    A few phrases I especially liked are:

  • My plans fail because the Lord wants me to turn to Him in my time of trouble, not lean on my own strength to get me through. 
  • We are not guaranteed tomorrow----neither is the person God has put in our path to witness to.
  • It is to our benefit to forgive so our relationship with God is not hindered and our joy can be complete. Then we can be the light to this lost world that God desires for us to be. 
  • God wants us to give thanks always and for all things---that includes the difficult times in our life---no matter how big or small. 
    I really enjoyed reading through this book, and found it to be full of things that I needed to hear. It makes a great devotional book, with the passages and questions, but can very easily be read as a chapter book. 

         I received this book from BOOKCRASH per their blogger program, and was not required to write a positive review. 

   

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Pride and Prejudice

     If asked, I would say that everyone has at least a basic concept of "Pride and Prejudice", either by reading the book, watching the movie, or simply word of mouth. But on second thought, that may not be so. For those of you who have never read/watched/heard about "Pride and Prejudice", I shall do my best to give a simple outline of the characters.
     Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are the parents of five daughters:

  • Jane----the eldest and sweetest of them all, shares an especially close bond with Lizzy, and catches the attention of the young, handsome, and (most importantly) very rich Mr. Bingley. 
  • Elizabeth (Lizzy)----the second daughter, the one of whom the story is based, is her father's favorite daughter and her mother's least. 
  • Mary----the middle and most overlooked daughter, spends her days playing her pianoforte, reading theology, and protesting any delight in parties and the like. 
  • Catherine (Kitty)----the fourth daughter, does everything her younger sister does, and spends her days flirting and dancing.
  • Lydia----the youngest daughter, her mother's favorite, shallow and spoiled, chases after the militia in impulsive, senseless ways.
     I really don't know what else to write without either making a mess of it or going on for pages, and since neither of those seem pleasant options for you or myself, I shall direct you to this site which shall do much a more elegant job than I. 
     I have watched the movie, and upon reading the book, was pleased to see that the two are inseparable. One can mimic the movie and be quoting the book. 
     That being said, thus ends my review. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Trusting Grace

     BOOK REVIEW:   All of her life, Grace Bidwell has longed for children, but now the chances of her dreams coming true are looking slim. Widowed and caring for her elderly father, she struggles to maintain her late husband's farm until she places an ad for a hired hand.
     Robert Frasier arrives in town with three pitiful, bedraggled children who have nothing but the tattered clothes on their backs and a load of hurt, pride, and anger. Believing this is divine intervention in her life, Grace welcomes them with open arms. As feelings grow between her and Robert, Grace will have to convince him that she is a woman who can be trusted with his heart.

     MY REVIEW:   This is book three of Maggie Brendan's Virtues and Vices of the Old West. I have not read the previous two books, but their titles are The Trouble with Patience, and A Sweet Misfortune. I don't know how intertwined the books are with each other, but this book can definitely be read on its own.
      I enjoy books about the West in the early days, but this book disappointed me. Not only was it focused only on the romance between Grace and her hired hand, Robert and the potato farm, but there were also a few parts that I did not think needed to be included in the story.
     One thing I liked about the book was how readily Grace stepped into the kid's lives and was there for them. And her care for her father, who suffered from an unknown ailment.

  I received this book from REVELL per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Catching the Wind

   BOOK REVIEW: What happened to Brigitte Berthold?  That question has haunted Daniel Knight since he was thirteen, when he and ten-year-old Brigitte escaped the Gestapo agents who arrested both their parents. They survived a harrowing journey from Germany to England, only to be separated upon their arrival. Daniel vowed to find Brigitte after the war, a promise he has fought to fulfill for more than seventy years.
   Now a wealthy old man, Daniel's final hope in finding Brigitte rests with Quenby Vaughn, an American journalist working in London. He believes Quenby's tenacity to find missing people and her personal investment in a related WWII espionage story will help her succeed where previous investigators have failed. Though Quenby is wrestling her own demons--and wary at the idea of teaming up with Daniel's lawyer, Lucas Hough--the lure of Brigitte's story is too much to resist. Together, Quenby and Lucas delve deep into the past, following a trail of deception, sacrifice, and healing that could change all of their futures.

   MY REVIEW:  If you've ever read Cathy Gohlke's Secrets She Kept, you would find a resemblance between it and Catching the Wind. Both are written in flashback (every-otherish chapter) to reveal an old tale that is being discovered years later. And, both books are exceptionally well-written, telling a moving tale of tragedy and discovery.
   We think we face trials in our lives, but compared to those told in this book, they are nothing but trifling annoyances that hinder our grand illusions of the wonderful life we think we deserve.
   I really enjoyed this book--I read it all at once without a pause. The story unraveled in an interesting, not too slow manner. And the discoveries that Quenby made where quite interesting, though they can somewhat be guessed toward the end. I would say this is a perfect lazy afternoon book that doesn't make you feel as though you just wasted a whole afternoon.

        I received this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS per their blogger program, and was not required to write a positive review. 

Band of Sisters

   BOOK REVIEW:     Driven by a shameful past and a perilous future, Maureen O'Reilly and her sister flee Ireland in search of safety, liberty, and opportunity. But after surviving the rigors of Ellis Island, Maureen learns that their benefactor has died, and his family--refusing to own his dept--casts her out. Impoverished and in danger of deportation, Maureen connives to find employment in a prominent Manhattan department store, only to discover the elegant facade hides a dangerous secret.
   Despite her family' disapproval, Olivia Wakefield vows to honor her father's promise but can't find Maureen, the woman her brother-in-law so rudely turned away. Unexpected help comes from a local businessman, who Olivia dares hope will become more than an ally, even as she fears the secrets he's hiding.
   As women begin disappearing from the department store, Olivia rallies influential ladies in her circle to help Maureen stand against injustice and fight for the lives of their growing band of sisters. But will they be too late? And in the midst of a world gone mad, can either woman open her heart to divine leading or the love it might bring?

   MY REVIEW:   I am becoming a fan of Cathy Gohlke's books. I have previously read her Promise Me This and Secrets She Kept. She seems to have a deeper plot than some other authors, and something else I can't put my finger on.
   This book is set in the 1910's, about the immigration of Maureen and her sister from Ireland. Determined to make it on her own after her father's friend is found to have passed away, Maureen takes a position in a department store, narrowly surviving a tragic mistake. Forced to live in less-than-desirable circumstances, Maureen's sister starts to pull away and blame Maureen for their troubles in Ireland. Meanwhile Maureen stubbornly refuses help from those who would be friends.
   I was reminded as I read this book of the difficulties facing immigrants, especially women on their own. The city is unforgiving and treacherous to those who don't know it, and filled with preditors.
   Two things I was impressed with in the book are, first, the effort a group of first-class women put into helping those who needed it. They called themselves a Band of Sisters. And second, Maureen's efforts in helping both her friends and those in the same dire circumstance. She could have turned a blind eye and remained in ignorant "safety", but she chose to help those who didn't have anyone else to care about them. It truly is an inspiration.

The Gatekeepers

   BOOK REVIEW:  Since George Washington, presidents have depended on the advice of key confidants. But is wasn't until the twentieth century that the White House chief of staff became the second most powerful job in government. Unelected and unconfirmed, the chief serves at the whim of the president, hired and fired by him alone. He is the president's closest advisor and the person he depends on to execute his agenda. He decides who gets to see the president, negotiates with Congress, and--most crucially--enjoys unparalleled access to the leader of the free world. When the president makes a life-and-death decision, often the chief of staff is the only other person in the room. Each chief can make or break an administration.
   Through extensive, intimate interviews with all seventeen living chiefs and two former presidents, award-winning journalist and producer Chris Whipple pulls back the curtain on this unique fraternity, whose members have included Rahm Emanuel, Dick Cheney, Leon Panetta, and Donald Rumsfeld. In doing so, he revises our understanding of presidential history, showing us how James Baker and Panetta skillfully managed the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, ensuring their reelections--and, conversely, how Jimmy Carter never understood the importance of a chief, crippling his ability to govern. From Watergate to Iran-Contra to the Monica Lewinsky scandal to the Iraq War, Whipple shows us how the chief of staff can make the difference between success and disaster.

    MY REVIEW:  I found this to be an interesting book. It covers the chiefs of staff dating back to that of Richard Nixon, who, as I understood it, was the first or at least near the first president to have an official chief of staff. There were a few presidents after him who decided to forgo that position, but their presidencies suffered for it. Having someone take care of the less-pressing political issues and monitor the president's schedule and those who get to see him at any time appeared to be a help to the presidency.
   The introduction to this book details a meeting of several previous chiefs of staff to give helpful "tips and tricks of the trade" to Rahm Emanuel as he prepared to be Obama's chief of staff. The next chapters cover the presidencies of Nixon through Trump.
   Not only did this book give insight to the chief of staff's position and influence, it also aligned the presidents for me and the main points of their reigns.
   One thing I didn't like about the book is the language included in Chris' collected quotes. Surely the quotes can keep their authenticity without such expletives.

I received this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS per their blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. 
 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Chapel Car Bride

     BOOK REVIEW:  After a sheltered life in Pittsburgh, Hope Irvine is ready for a new adventure. When her father takes a position as a preacher in a railroad car converted into a traveling church, she's thrilled at the chance to accompany him. While accommodations in their new chapel car home are tight, Hope couldn't be happier putting her musical skills to good use and ministering to the people of West Virginia alongside her father. But when their chapel car arrives in Finch, West Virginia, they find a coal mining community that has hit hard times and is suspicious of outsiders.
    Luke Hughes works for the coal mine when he can, but the struggling company doesn't always offer steady work. When Reverend Irvine and Hope arrive in town, Luke is intrigued by what the reverend can teach him---and by the lovely and kind Hope.
    When Hope's desire to bring supplies and Sunday school classes to neighboring counties leads to her traveling with a flirtatious young mine manager, Luke is hard-pressed to suppress his jealousy. But when he begins to suspect the manager's motives are less than charitable, can he prove it without hurting Hope, or worse, putting her in danger?

    MY REVIEW:  I have read one or two of Judith Miller's books over the years, and a few that she wrote with other authors. I can't remember what I thought about her other books, but I was a little disappointed with this one. I liked the idea of a traveling chapel car, but I thought the storyline could use some help. Luke and Hope seemed to fall for each other pretty fast, and the beginning sort of jumped along, so we went from them meeting to their being an almost couple. Then introduce the miner's irresponsible, yet charming son, and you have the whole girl-falling-for-the-wrong-guy-then-finally-waking-up-only-to-have-the-right-guy-start-rethinking-things vein.
   Aside from that, the book was written well--I had no problem keeping up with the story, etc. I think this is a stand-alone novel, but Judith has also written several other series, such as Home from Amana, Postcards from Pullman, and a few with Tracie Peterson, like Bells of Lowell, which I didn't care much for, and The Broadmoor Legacy, which I enjoyed.

                 I received this book from BETHANY HOUSE in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sweet and Sour Sausage Balls

  For supper tonight we had the above mentioned meal. It was inspired both by the sight of sausage in the freezer and the lack of anything else in close range. :) 
  This is a favorite meal of ours, and we always eat it with mashed potatoes. Tonight I had decided to make a different kind of potato, but mashed were hopefully asked for, so here we are again. I did add a twist to them this time----I mixed in some of the sauce from the meat, making a lovely orange color, which shall hopefully keeps others away.  :)

  The meal was then completed with green beans and bread. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Pizza




 


This past Saturday, I was once again making pizza for supper. But having made it many times before, I decided to do it a different way this time---which could have interesting results, as there aren't many ways to make a pizza. :) 


What I did, was mix all the toppings together. I started by frying the sausage, then decided to throw in the pepperoni, chopped peppers, and pizza sauce. Then I put in a lot of Parmesan cheese, and at the end decided to add onions as well, which came out slightly crunchy as they didn't have much time to soften. I was afraid the crunchy onions wouldn't fly with the rest of the family, but they didn't seem to mind. 



When the crust was done baking, I added some mozarella cheese to the mix and dumped the whole thing onto the crust. I was a little worried as I spread it out, because it seems to make a bigger pile than if you put on the toppings individually. I will say though, it didn't take nearly so long as doing everything separately. I put more cheese on top, stuck it in the oven, and hoped for the best.


It ended up tasting very much the same, but with everything being (and tasting) lovelily combined. My brother thought it tasted like a sloppy joe pizza, which is fairly close but for sausage instead of hamburger. And it was fun to do. My mom likes big chunks of sausage, which got beat up in all the stirring, so I'll have to take care for that if I do it this way agian, but otherwise I believe I shall, if not for the novelty of it. Goodness knows what I'll do when I get tired of this way, though. :) 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lemon Cream Dessert

This isn't my picture, as I couldn't cut the dessert and still
serve a whole pan---but I could cut out a piece and then
finangle it back in, and cover the lines with more CoolWhip!



  Easter calls for a yummy dessert (I don't really know how, but it makes sense), and this was the one requested.
  I think it looks hard, but it really isn't. This was my second time making it, and it was much less harrowing than the first time---I had to make the lemon layer three times before realizing I had copied the recipe wrong and there in lay the problem. But we did eventually figure it out and make the desset. :)












   The first step is to make your lemon layer, as it needs to cool before layering.  (DO NOT start sampling this, as it is very difficult to stop. Plus, when others see your look of pure delight, they will be inspired to follow your example.)










    While you wait for the lemon layer to cool, you make your crust, which is just flour and butter. You're supposed to add walnuts as well, but we don't like that. Plus we never have them on hand. :)   Another option is to make a graham cracker crust.








   There is supposed to be a picture of the creamcheese layer here, but I was already spreading it on the crust before I realized I had forgotten it. :( 






    And while your crust is baking, you can either make the cream cheese and pudding layers, or you can run off and do something else and make them later while the crust cools, or after it cools if you like. :)


Oh, right------this is the pudding layer.









    The pudding layer gets even better----you add a half a carton of CoolWhip yet! (There is a reason this dessert is good!  It has been proven to break even the most devout dietest.)










    Now begins the layering process. The cream cheese layer can be rather tricky, as it likes to pull up the crust. I found that running warm water over the back of a metal spoon repeatedly (and using that to spread the layer)  worked fairly well.









     Next is the lemon layer, which goes on beautifully if it's at the perfect temperature of warm, yet not warm enough to damage the other cool layers.










        And then the pudding layer. Again, don't start sampling this. And it's probably better to make this dessert when no one else is around (unless they are there to wash dishes, in which case they deserve to lick a few spoons).   ;)


     Then you top the entire cream cheese-y lemon-y pudding-y dessert with your leftover carton of CoolWhip, plus however much more you want (we had a half carton in the fridge which I also used). After that you have to wait a whole four or so hours for the dessert to chill.  Unless, as in my case, you made the dessert for a particular event and have to wait a whole 24 hours before you can even taste it! Life can be so cruel sometimes.








       And since this dessert doesn't have enough sugar in it  (which is a TOTAL lie because it is completely full of sugar)   I decided to sprinkle more on top. Anyways, the CoolWhip just didn't give as much of a "finished" look as I thought it should. :)


   



Hmm, I suppose I should remember to include the recipe. I don't suppose you'd all like to go hunt it down and make sure you have the right one and everything. Besides, the point of posting this is to share the recipe, and not doing so does defeat the purpose, which would be quite sad indeed.


Oh right, here it is......

Lemon Cream Dessert



Thursday, April 13, 2017

One

   BOOK REVIEW:   Our world needs fewer walls and more bridges. Be a bridge builder.   Jesus didn't say the world would know we are His followers by our rhetoric, our political learnings, our charity work, or even by our knowledge of the Scriptures. He said the world would know us by our love for one another. Yet it's so easy to put others at arm's length, to lash out, to put up walls.
   In One, Deidra Riggs calls us to put our focus on self-preservation aside and, like Jesus, make the first move toward reconciliation. She helps us understand that we are secure in God's inexhaustible love, making us free to love others lavishly--not just in what we do but in what we say, what we don't say, what we will endure, and what we will forgive.

    MY REVIEW:   This was, for me, one of those books that you can read for hours and still be in the first half. (I still can't decide if books like that excite or bother me. I like getting through books, but I also enjoy having more to read. I suppose I should choose one or the other and be done with it, eh?)
   Following in my previous vein of letting the book speak for itself, I shall put forth a few of the things that stood out to me. And they are:

  • "There is no division between secular work and holy work for the children of God. Everything we do is sacred--because it all matters to God. The Israelites knew this and, as such, they approachd the instruction of life in the faith as more than the passing on of information from one generation to the next. Their relationship with God was their identity. The same is true for us today."  This made me stop and think. Just as we ought to understand that God sees everything we do, we need to understand that everything we do is to God's glory, not ours. 
  • "Before and above everything else, we are loved by God. All of us. Even those who don't claim to be, as well as those who don't believe they are. We are all loved by God, created in His image."  You've probably heard "Just because you don't believe in God doesn't mean He's not real." This is the same. "Just because you don't want to be or think you are loved by God doesn't mean you're not---because you are. God loves everyone, even the worst of sinners. Yes, He doesn't like their deeds, but He does love them.
  • "God enters our wilderness experiences. He walks through the valley of the shadow of death right along with us. God is our ever-present help in trouble."  I tend to use God as my way out of trouble, but He is there to help us in trouble. There is a verse that says trouble and trials come to strengthen us, to bring us to God. Why do we wish away struggles when they are in fact a means of drawing to God? Are we too concerned with our own selves?
   I enjoyed reading this book. Deidra also pointed out that her goal is for unity, not uniformity. That is, I believe, key to the whole thing. Each person is different and special, and there will be differences between us. We don't all need to be replicas of each other, but rather, united in love with each other, supporting and assisting and calling out to each other. We are definately here to serve, glorify, and witness for God, but we are also here to help our fellow believers do the same. 

           I received a copy of this book from BAKER BOOKS in exchange for my honest review. 

 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places

   BOOK REVIEW:  Perhaps that's the greatest reason why He calls us to dangerous places: so that we will know His astonishing, sacrificial, life-restoring love.  Weaving together scripture, her story, and the testimonies of others, Kate McCord explores what is lost and what is gained when we follow God at any cost. She writes for those who go and those who love them, since love shares in suffering. Written with the weight of glory in the shadow of loss, Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places will inspire Christians to count the cost--and pay it--and so come closer to the heart of God.

   MY REVIEW: This is the third book written by Kate McCord after having spent several years in Afghanistan, the previous two being In the Land of Blue Burqas and Farewell, Four Waters. I enjoyed all of them. It makes me wonder abit how a person can write three books on their experience in Afghanistan, but the books are surprisingly different. In the Land of Blue Burqas is Kate's story of her ministry there. Farewell, Four Waters is a novel compossed of different true events, making a nonfiction fiction, if there is such a thing. And Whiy God Calls Us to Dangerous Places is about the sacrifices made both by Kate herself, those she left behind, and other aid workers who gave themselves to serve.
   I liked the emphasis in this book on WHY. Why does God call us to dangerous places? A few reasons Kate gives are:

  •   Because we can't touch people, heal their bodies, hand them a book, or worship and pray for them from 7,400 miles away. Love and truth takes on flesh and walks the earth, and He does so within us. 
  • Because He loves people who live in dangerous places. In fact, He loves people so much that He Himself came to a dangerous place. 
We can't witness from a distance. And we can't profess to have the greatest treasure and not want to share it with those who so desperately need it too.
   Kate sent out for statements from other aid workers to include in her book, so not only is this her story, it is their story. I always like when authors do that--it shows they are not interested in bragging up their story, but in getting the story out to inspire others.

              I recieved this book from MOODY PUBLISHERS in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Gifts from Heaven

     BOOK REVIEW:  No prayer is too big for God.   Sometimes it doesn't feel like God is listening to our prayers. But now and then He powerfully reminds us that He hears our requests and is strong enough to help. What begins as simple faith ends with an astounding gift from our loving heavenly Father.
    These true, uplifting stories are from ordinary people experiencing extraordinary help in times of need. While some answers to prayer feel ordinary and go unnoticed, this collection highlights amazing events that could only happen with God's supernatural intervention. With accounts of such things as unexplainable healing and miraculous protection in terrifying situations, this book will inspire you to believed that God can answer even your most "impossible" prayers.
     Let these stories touch your heart, strengthen your faith, and encourage you to pray more than ever before.

     MY REVIEW:  I blondly chose this book without really realizing what it was. Oh, I knew it was about prayer, but I didn't know it was a collection of true stories of answered prayers. Books like this usually take me 2-4 days to read--I had this one done in 24 hours. :) I really really liked it!
     I agree, it can seem like God isn't hearing my prayers, but after reading all these stories of amazing answers to prayer (and amazing faith in God to answer prayers) I was reassured. I have to remember that God's time is different than mine, and He knows best. Just becuase I think I needs answered now doesnt' mean it's the best time. Wouldn't it be nice if we could see the whole picture? But then, why would we need to rely on God if we already knew everything?
     James Stuart Bell has compiled other books like this, such as Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters, Heaven Touching Earth, and Encountering Jesus. I would recommend getting ahold of any (or all) of his books.

 I received a copy of this book from BETHANY HOUSE PUBLISHERS in exchange for my honest review. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Saturday Night Pizza

Tonight Emily learned how to make pizza. She had SO much fun.


I let her go crazy with the seasonings--I think that was her favorite part. :) 


These are all the different kinds she used.


She likes to decorate with her initial. :)
 

English Lessons

   BOOK REVIEW: Could she come to love the questions themselves?   The church wasn't just part of Andrea Lucado's childhood. It was her childhood. It provided more than happy moments. It provided an invitations to know Jesus.
   When Andrea arrived in Oxford the year after she graduated from college, she expected to meet God there. What she didn't expect was that God would be so much bigger than she'd believed.
   In this engaging memoir, Andrea speaks to all of us who wrestle with doubt and identity. "So many nights in Oxford", Andrea writes, "I felt like the details of my faith were getting fuzzier. Nights turned restless with questions. I questioned God's existence, and the doubt was getting into my bones."
   In ENGLISH LESSONS, Andrea takes us through the roads of England and, more important, the paths of the soul. Here she explores the journey of a changing faith and an unchanging God--and why growing up starts with realizing just how small we are.



   MY REVIEW:  I have never read Max Lucado's books, but I have heard of them. When I saw that his daughter had written a book, I wanted to read it. And now that I have, I want to read some of Max's. I really liked English Lessons. It is worthwhile, interesting, and fun to read. Some memoirs can tend to be dry, but this one wasn't.
   I really liked the descriptions of Oxford that were included. I like big historic buildings and rivers as much as the next person, and as I read I wished there were pictures, or better yet--that I could actually be there! :)
   One of the many things I liked from the book is this paragraph:     "A friend from Nashville once told me that when he hears conflicting and confusing voices in his head, he knows those voices are not from God. God is not a God of confusion, he explained to me. God is clear. When I regret, wonder, and question my past, I feel anxious, guilty, and foggy. But when I release those moments of opportunity offered by various rivers over the years, and I focus on what's in front of me and all around me, the fog clears, the guilt fades, the anxiety subsides. That's when I hear God's voice because I've finally quieted the others. That's when I can see His face. Through the clearing of the fog, he comes into view, and His eyes are kind."   How true--when we stop wishing for yesterday, we can have today and hope for tomorrow. And if we stop agonizing, we can hear God.
   One more plus--this is a beautiful, hardcover book. :)

        I received a copy of this book from BLOGGING FOR BOOKS in exchange for my honest review. 
     

Pecan Pinwheel Cookies



 Pecan Pinwheel Cookies

This is the third time I have made these cookies, and cheers arose when they came out. Our family loves them. They are a bit time-consuming to make, but well worth the effort. I would say they are like making cinnamon rolls, really.


After making the dough and refrigerating it, you roll out a portion. 



Then you cover it with your pecan-brown sugar-butter filling (there's a reason they're good).



Then you roll it into a log.



Next, you cut the log into many many little cookies, and bake them. 



Then you eat as many as  you can before the rest of the family realizes they're done. :) 



I had a few that turned out nearly perfect!



And several that didn't  :) 


Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Chamberlain Key

      BOOK REVIEW:   Timothy P. Smith, heir to a renowned family business responsible for construction or renovation of some of America's most cherished landmarks, struggled to understand the significance of his recurring dream....until he had another dream--one that identified a specific location where it seemed he might find answers to his questions. So Timothy drove to a remote spot in British Columbia. There the adventure--which later led to a startling discovery in the oldest Hebrew text of the Bible--began.
       It took the convergence of the sacred text, one man's life, and modern computer technology to reveal messages that may explain dramatic world events, as well as influence every person alive today.

      MY REVIEW:  I first read this book a month ago, and it is rather disconcerting how much I forgot. Definitely a book to read several times.
     I enjoyed reading this book--it is interesting and keeps ones attention. Smith includes images and diagrams for his discoveries, which allows the reader to better understand what is being said.
     I was interested with the discoveries Smith told about in his book. He has found messages encrypted in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, encryptions that could not have been put in by anyone other than God, as they are about events that no one could have foretold.
     I don't know if I believe these discoveries, but I do think that this is a very well-written, interesting book to read.

                 I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chicken and Rice

 

Before adding rice.
All done!
Another of my peculiar habits in the kitchen is to start off with one thing in mind and end up with something very different. For instance, tonight I planned to make Lemon Skillet Glazed Chicken, but when I went to make it, I somehow ended up making One Skillet Chicken, Vegetables, and Rice Meal. This was a really easy meal to make, and it even tasted good. :)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Spaghetti and Meatballs

 Usually when I make spaghetti, I make only spaghetti. Tonight I was told to make more than that. So, I made spaghetti, green beans, rolls, and applesauce.

Count to One

   BOOK REVIEW:  Bishop Robert lifts the veil on what the Holy Spirit has been doing across the globe, enflaming the hearts of believers everywhere to fulfill Christ's prayer.
   The prayer of Jesus in John 17 was that His Church would be one and that together we would display the glory of God to a lost and dying world. Our unity would prove our message. Sadly, we've badly missed the mark!
   Count to One lays a simple and compelling foundation every believer can stand upon, examining the issues and answering the questions everyone asks about overcoming eh barriers to genuine Christian unity. Today, God is moving His Church to the place of unity we see in John 17! Our diversity is supposed to be our strength, not a cause for division. So let us celebrate our love for Jesus in the midst of our differences. Read the book and meet the family you never believed you had--and welcome home!


   MY REVIEW:    A few things that can be found in this book:

  • While believing churches should be unified with each other, Bishop Robert makes clear that the goal is Unity, not Uniformity. 
  • In support of his point, Bishop Robert says, in regard to the diversity of churches in witnessing, "Each reaches some, none reaches all, but together we can reach more." "They support and complement each other."
  • He also specifies "I am not describing unity with Muslims, Mormons, Jews, Buddhists, or any other person or group outside the historic Christian faith. I am speaking wholly and entirely about people who are in Christ, and who acknowledge Him as Saviour."
  • Another thought is the churches are not to say theirs is the only way to salvation, but rather, that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. 
  • Bishop Robert does not want all the churches to accept the exact same manner of worshiping, saying we do not need to form the Foursquare EpiscoBapterian Luthigistic Evangematic Southern Apostolic Presbiholiness Conservative Romagational Orthocostal Bible Community of Prophecy and Catholic Power in Christ Church. But rather, to accept and embrace the diversity, as a house divided against itself cannot stand. 
  • In the last chapter, Bishop Robert states that only the love of Jesus Christ can allow the churches to unite with and forgive one another. 
I enjoyed reading this book. I think Bishop Robert has some very good things to say. Oh, for a world of unity--it is quite a vision.

   I received a copy of this book from the author through BOOKCRASH in exchange for my honest review. 

Deep Extraction

    BOOK REVIEW: A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore's life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of exection.
    A bombing at one of Nathan's oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional--the victim's wife, her best friend, is one of the
FBI's prime suspects.
   Clearing Sally's name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan's personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer--and to each other--the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.

   MY REVIEW:  This is the second book in DiAnn Mill's FBI Task Force series. It can easily be read on its own. I have not read the first book and this one made perfect sense.
   I found this to be one of my favorites by DiAnn, and really enjoyed the plot. The mystery moves along well and keeps you guessing. I was surprised when I found out who the culprit was.
   In this book, the FBI task force is baffled by the induced heart-attack of Nathan Moore, and are hitting dead ends every way they turn. But they must be doing something right--someone seems intent on getting them off the case, and witnesses who don't have much to tell are being silenced.
    As Tori and Cole investigate Nathan's life to find possible enemies, they uncover a double life--Nathan is not the man his family and friends thought him to be. This weights further on his widow and teenage sons, making his passing even worse.
   DiAnn puts a second theme into this book--a theme of survival and growth in times of trial. Nathan's wife and sons learn to forgive and go on with their lives, realizing that moving on is better than being destroyed by bitterness. It is something we can all learn from--hard times are not sent to break us, but to build us up, to draw us to God and increase our faith in Him.

           I received this book from TYNDALE PUBLISHERS in exchange for my honest review.