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.  

Farewell, Four Waters

    BOOK REVIEW:   In fourteen days, the life she knew would end on the streets of Kabul.   All Marie needed was a few stamps and signatures--the mandatory paperwork necessary for the Afghan government--and she could hold literacy classes in the rural town of Shektan. Her hope: Afghan women would learn to read.
    Suddenly, shots resonated. An aid worker killed at an intersection in Kabul. The community scattered. Most decided to say farewell. Not Marie; she chose to stay, to teach. But she was unaware that this choice would make her a pawn at the center of a local feud.
    Kidnapping was Marie's worst fear. She didn't know treachery was more deadly. 

    MY REVIEW:    This is a novel based on actual happenings, some from Kate's own experience, and others from close friends or random aid workers. The names of towns, people, etc, have been changed to keep anonymity, but the events did occur. Together, they form a story telling of the danger and bravery one can find in Afghanistan.
    The title of the book comes from the name of the village in which Marie's one class was located--Char Ab, which translates to "Four Waters". When a treacherous scheme against Marie and her co-workers is uncovered, she must say goodbye to the friends she has made, both in her home town of Shektan and in the village of Char Ab.
    I really enjoyed reading this book. It is the second of Kate's that I have read, the first being "In the Land of Blue Burqas", which is just as good as this one. I would readily recommend either one! Kate does a wonderful job of capturing her readers and holding their attention throughout the entire book. Her stories of faith and conversion are inspiring, and invite the readers to follow her example.

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017


Yesterday I decided to try a new cake recipe that I recently found---Princesstarta. It is layered sponge cake, vanilla custard, jam, and whipped cream--all covered with a layer of marzipan. It's a Swedish recipe, and finding it in American measurements took a bit of looking. I also layered the cake a bit differently than the recipe said to--I had seen it done a different way that I liked better.

I wasn't sure how it would all turn out. I was worried about the layering, but that part actually worked well. It was the individual components that decided to fail me. :)
-First, the sponge came out heavy and thin (and it needs cut into three layers, so thin was going to be a problem. Thankfully, being heavy saved me there).
-Then the custard got lumpy.
-Also, my whipping cream didn't work, so I used CoolWhip, which melted because I thawed it too fast. :)   It proceeded to ooze down over the cake when I cut into it.
-Next, my almond flour was too coarse, which made the marzipan coating speckled instead of coloring evenly.
-And finally--which annoyed me most because I could so easily have fixed it---I didn't even put the cake in the center of the plate!! Oh bother.

                   Despite all this, the cake was actually pretty good--and rather fun to make!

This is what I was aiming for :)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Treasured Grace

   BOOK REVIEW:  Grace Martindale has known more than her share of hardship. After her parents died, raising her two younger sisters, Hope and Mercy, became her responsibility. A hasty decision to head west seemed like an opportunity for a fresh start but has instead left Grace in a precarious position. When missionary Dr. Marcus Whitman and his wife agree to let Grace and her sisters stay at their mission for the winter, Grace is grateful. Until they hear from their uncle in Oregon City, the three sisters have nowhere else to go.
   As Grace adjusts to life in the West, she meets a fur trapper named Alex Armistead who intrigues and infuriates her in equal measure. But when a measles outbreak threatens lives at the mission and among the native Cayuse who live nearby, it is Alex who helps Grace use the natural healing remedies she learned from her mother to help where she can, despite Dr. Whitman's disapproval. As the death toll rises, so do tensions between the settlers and the natives, and Grace soon finds herself and those she loves in more danger than she imagined possible.

   MY REVIEW:   Treasured Grace is the first book in Tracie Peterson's Heart of the Frontier series. It tells the tale of Grace Martindale and her sisters as they journey to Oregon. Tragedy strikes along the way, and the girls end up staying with Dr. Whitman at his mission. But the area is full of Cayuse and Nez Peirce Indians, and the Cayuse are getting restless. Too many deaths have occurred that the doctor couldn't stop, and the Cayuse are sure Dr. Whitman is actually poisoning their people. When Grace leaves to help a friend, bad becomes worst.
   I don't often like reading books about Indian attacks and the like, but this one was okay. While the action was still there, it was rather subdued, and the story stayed centered on Grace and her sisters. I thought the book was well-written and I enjoyed reading it. I liked the faith that Grace and another character displayed, and that they helped others turn to God.
   I will say, as you get closer to the end of the book, you fear for an unhappy ending (for us expectant readers who want the story to end the way we want it to end).
   I don't think this book feels quite like Tracie's others. I can't say what it is, but it just doesn't seem like her. It was simply different.

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Stolen Heart

    BOOK REVIEW:   The future she dreamed of is gone. But perhaps a better one awaits.....   From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when a former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners--like her. Lydia won't let that get her down, though. All will be well when she's reunited with her fiance.
   But when she discovers he has disappeared--and that he left behind a pregnant wife--Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

   MY REVIEW:   I thought this book was written well, but it wasn't one of my favorites. I found it to be particularly light, and I don't know if that is a problem with the book itself or with me.
   I liked the mystery line that was included. Storekeepers are having things go missing with no sign of breakin--several on the same night. And Edgar's dissappearance is very strange indeed--as though he dropped off the earth. I knew who was behind it about half-way through, but not quite the extent.
   I also liked that Lydia went about and made friends with the townspeople despite their dislike of her. And she didn't let changed plans break her.

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Turkey and Rolls

  Tonight we had turkey, mashed potatoes and rolls for supper. The rolls were a new recipe -- 30-minute dinner rolls.  They took a little more than 30 min, but not much. Bread and I don't usually get along real well, but these were really good. Definitely something we plan to have again.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017


 I have a great tendency to start baking late at night, like after supper. Yesterday was one of those days. At five o'clock, I decided I was going to make a Coconut Cream Pie while making supper. I have been wanting to make a successful Coconut Cream Pie, and yesterday I felt like actually trying it. So off I went.
Coconut Cream Pie

 But I couldn't just make one pie--my pie crust recipe makes three crusts. So, I decided I would also make a Shoofly Pie. That ended up being the first one done, at 7:15pm. The last one came out at 9:15pm.

Shoofly Pie
 What about the third one? I thought about Pecan Pie, but didn't want to use all my pecans. I also thought about Peach Pie, but didn't want to find the recipe. Then I thought of Apple Pie. We eat hot Apple Pie with milk for supper now and again, and I wished I had thought of this a few hours earlier and made Apple Pie for supper with Peach Pie on the side and Coconut Cream Pie for dessert. 😊  However, as it was too late for that and there is no point in making Apple Pie if you're not going to eat it for supper, I decided to make a Pumpkin Pie. 

Pumpkin Pie

 So, I ended up with three very different pies. Two were my favorite, a different two were my mom's favorite, and yet another two for my Dad, and the same one for my siblings. Needless to say, there will be one pie that will be eaten in a flash, a second in two flashes and the third is probably already gone. 😋

Life After Heaven

       Steven Musick, at the age of nineteen, joined the navy after running out of money for college. He was the only one to later qualify for Navy SEALS and Annapolis Naval Academy. His whole life was ahead and planned out. But all that changed with one fatal accident. After a vaccination injection gone wrong, Musick's health started to decline. When he ended up in the emergency room, he was injected with aminophylline and had a huge allergic reaction. After passing out, he found himself in Heaven.
       When he returned, Musick discovered that not only had he been unresponsive for five weeks, but he had also lost two-thirds of his lung capacity. For ten long years he had to deal with shortness of breath and poor health. But then he had another visit to Heaven, and when he returned he was astonished to find he had regained his perfect health. His doctors were stunned--this was an impossible recovery.
       After his visits to Heaven, Musick started experiencing "bubbles of Heaven" in his life. Simple things like helping another person would give him the same feelings of peace and joy that he felt in Heaven. He is convinced that Heaven is closer than many think, and all we need to do is be willing to wait and anticipate these glimpses.
       This book runs through Musick's life, then starts talking about how we can experience Heaven on Earth. It is very practical and easy to follow. Not only should we anticipate Heaven after death, but we should also anticipate Heaven here on Earth.
       I didn't know what to expect or believe when I got this book, but I found it to be well-written and interesting, if not believable. It is the first book of its kind that I have read so I have nothing to judge it by, but I would say my first impression is that Musick did experience Heaven and it has made a tremendously good impact on his life.

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

In the Land of Blue Burqas

  BOOK REVIEW:   "I've lived in Afghanistan for five years. I learned the rules--I had to."    The gray-bearded and black-bearded men in the back of the rickshaw eyed me. The gray-bearded man asked me, "Are you a Muslim?"
   For him, the word Muslim had a very clear definition. He did not just mean "Are you submitted to God?" To which I could have said, "Yes, of course." He meant something much more precise: "Do you submit to the laws of the Prophet Mohammad as recorded in the Holy Quran and Hadith and as taught by the mullahs?" Whatever true response I could give would not be welcome.
   Still, I could give a true response. I answered the gray-bearded man's question softly without arrogance or apology. "No, I am not a Muslim. I am a follower of the Honorable Jesus Messiah."
   The black-bearded man scowled, brows furrowed. He leaned too close to my face and glared directly into my averted eyes. his words came out as a command, short and abrupt: "You should become a Muslim. It would be better for you in this life and the next."

   MY REVIEW:  Kate McCord is a protective pseudonym for a woman who spent five years ministering to the Afghanistan people. She had to learn the language, follow the dress code, and figure out the numerous and detailed "rules". She was non-government funded, and organized many outreaches to the poor Afghans. 
   I found it particularly interesting to read about the social rules of the Afghans. Women there are meant to be seen and not heard in public--they go about their errands with voluminous cloaks and blue burqas, which are veils/head scarves that cover all but their eyes. They can only entertain at home, and that is a big deal for them. Every visitor is invited in for tea and treats and 20+ min of conversation. 
   Another big deal among the Afghans is arranged marriages. The girls are married off as young as 10 to men they often don't even know. Kate asked around and discovered that their wedding day is the happiest day for most men, but the saddest for most women. 
   Afghanistan is a deeply Muslim country. They believe that all people are supposed to be Muslim, and they condemn those who are not. Kate was often told that she should become Muslim, and also told that she should marry an Afghan man, as she was single. When asked if she was a Muslim and did she pray namaz, Kate answered that no, she did not. She was a follower of Jesus Messiah, and as He did not pray namaz, she did not pray namaz. 
   I was impressed by Kate's ministry. She was there for the women. She made many friends, and had many meaningful conversations with them about many things--both religious and not. She was able to help many of them, and made a huge impact on their secluded lives. After five years though, it was no longer safe for her to remain there. 
   I really really liked this book. It was wonderfully written, and the message is incredible. Though she is telling her story about Afghanistan, she is also witnessing to all those who read her book--this is definitely a book worth reading!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rice and Beans

    I had a bunch of leftover rice in the fridge from last week, so I decided I would use that up tonight. I like to make simpler meals (usually soup in the winter and waffles/pancakes in the summer) on Monday nights, so I made this. I don't know what it's called, so I'll tell you what it is. :) You simply fry up hamburger and add baked beans, salt, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, etc. You can either eat it right away, or, if you want it to taste even better, bake or simmer it for a bit. We like to eat it over rice, which is how I accomplished my original motive.

     Now cold rice can be a challenge for me, as it hardens into little pellets when it cools. I thought it might be too dried out to be good, but I was proven wrong (there are a few times when that is a welcomed thing). I put it in a saucepan, added some water, and cooked it on low for 15-20ish minutes, stirring often and adding more water. It turned out soft and yummy! Always nice when my experimenting turns out profitable. :)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Evenings with Tozer

     BOOK REVIEW: Every day runs its course, and all tasks but one must come to an end: to search God and know Him. Of this there can be no end.
     In these 365 daily reflections on the wonder of God and the way of His Word, Tozer prompts us to seek God earnestly and love Him with our whole heart. Known for his steadfast devotion and incisive ponderings upon the Christian life, A. W. Tozer is a wise and trustworthy counselor.
     As the daylight dims and the night winds down, let Evenings with Tozer rest your heart in God's eternal wisdom.

     MY REVIEW: This is a 365-day devotional. Each day is a page long. It begins with a verse and is followed by a selection from one of Tozer's sermons, books, or editorials. The book was compiled by Gerald B. Smith, and was originally called Renewed Day by Day. Each page has the date at the top, and in place of the page number on the bottom is a small half-moon and three stars.
      I really like the idea of a devotional of Tozer's writings. Sometimes reading through his books can feel a bit long, so it is nice to have a dedicated amount per day that is long enough to make you think, but not long enough to drag. And to read from Tozer's works in the evening after whatever you have faced that day is just a really nice way to end the day.
     I think this was done up very well. It has Tozer's feel without his actually writing the book. The book is, of course, 365ish pages long, which I find neat. Some of Tozer's books can be almost too short, and I like reading a book that feels long and heavy and inspiring--I like that I'm going to be able to read it awhile.

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Meatloaf and Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

    Last night I made Chicken Nuggets and Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes (family favorites) for supper. As it turned out, supper plans changed. The Chicken Nuggets are too well-loved to have been left alone, but I still had a pan of potatoes left. So, I made a Meatloaf tonight to go with it. Needless to say, supper was very easy and simple tonight.

Yes, I know it's weird, but I thought this looked rather neat
and should have its picture taken.

My sister was in an experiementing mood, so, being the loving sister I am, 😊, I sacrificed a wee bit                 of my meatloaf to her. She proceeded to drown it in soy sauce and make her own loaf.

As Sure as the Dawn

     As Sure as the Dawn is the third and final book in Francine River's MARK OF THE LION series. The first book flipped between Hadassah, a young Christian slave, and Atretes, a German gladiator in Rome. The second book focused on Hadassah and the family she served.
        After winning his freedom in a last-man-alive-is-set-free battle, Atretes buys a villa on the edge of the city and settles into "normal" life. But for as much as he fought to be free from the ludus (gladiator "school"), he now finds himself trapped in a life of dullness--until he realizes that his son, whom he thought had died, was alive. Atretes determines to have him back from the young widow who took him in after losing her own child. When the babe refuses to be comforted by any but Rizpah (the widow), Atretes keeps Rizpah on as the babe's nurse. Then he decides to return to his home in Germania. He only has one problem--he has no idea how to get back. Rizpah finds a solution, but it includes traveling with a centurion. A Roman centurion. Atretes hates Romans. Especially soldiers.
                           It was a long journey.
When Atretes finally makes it home, he realizes that much has changed over his 10 years of imprisonment. He had changed much as well.
       There were a couple good lesson in this book. Atretes had trememdous pride, and had to learn to lay it down and accept the Lord's will for him--and to love and forgive others. It is a good lesson to all what a stumblingblock pride is.  This book also brought to light the worshipping of gods that was so firmly practiced. Atretes' people were followers of Tiwaz, and the evil and influence involved were tremendous. I enjoyed reading about the battle between followers of Tiwaz and the followers of God (you already know how that turned out). I really enjoyed reading this book, and it was a sufficient ending to the series.

Monday, March 6, 2017

An Echo in the Darkness

     An Echo in the Darkness is the second book in Francine River's MARK OF THE LION series. The first book was about Hadassah, a young Christian slave in the Valerian household. This book is about Marcus Valerian, the son. The end of the first book has a most undesired ending, and leaves one feeling terribly sad. This book brings hope and forgiveness, both for Marcus and his family, and for you, the reader. :)
     Marcus and his sister, Julia, are Roman through and through. They have lived the Roman lifestyle to the fullest, but it is catching up with them. They had always been fairly close, until Julia crosses the line and hurts Marcus beyond repair. For that she loses her brother to hatred. He declares he no longer has a sister.
   Now Julia is suffering from an unknown disease, and has been deserted by all her friends. Every distress, every problem, every ruined relationship she sees as no fault of her own--she is undeserving of these trials. Finally, she is facing death, with no one to help her but the strange, loving woman in veils who loyally stays by her side.
    Marcus is hurt by the loss of someone dear to him, and sets off to Judea to find this God and demand answers of him. He embarks on a long, trying journey, hoping to find answers, but finding much more. His Roman pride is finally broken, and he finds all that he has been looking for, both consciously and subconsciously. But then he is asked to do something--the one thing that he cannot do.
   I enjoyed this book, though not quite as well as the first one. I can't say what makes me think such, only that I do. This book does have, however, a much happier ending. If not for the third character (who isn't mentioned much in this book--he slowly seems to disappear), this could be the end of the series.

A Voice in the Wind

     One of my favorite things is to come across a new favorite author. Francine Rivers is one of my new favorites. Sadly, I have noticed that the best authors tend to have a smaller number of books. Some, like Tracie Peterson, have book after book after book. And others, like Francine Rivers, have less. Have you ever wished you could "wish" books out of an author? That she would publish a new one each month? Now that would be nice--unrealistic, but nice. :)
      A Voice in the Wind is the first book in Francine River's MARK OF THE LION series. The series is set in ancient Rome, beginning with Rome's destruction of Jerusalem. There are three characters portrayed through this series. Though each is seen in every book, the books have their focus on different ones.
     The first book, A Voice in the Wind, is about Hadassah, a young Christian Jew. Her family lives in Nain, but travels to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. While there, Rome lays seige. Hadassah's father goes out one day to preach the Gospel and never returns. Her mother dies of starvation not many weeks later. Within a few days of her mother's death, Roman soldiers kill her brother, and take Hadassah and her younger sister prisoner. Her sister dies before morning. Hadassah is the only one to survive. All this at the age of fifteen. By the grace of God, she survives the arduous journey to Rome, and somehow manages to be sold to a compassionate family, the mother of which thinks Hadassah would be a wonderful maid for her headstrong daughter who happens to be Hadassah's age. Thus begins her story--one full of faith, trial, and love.
    I really enjoyed this book. I don't often go for books written about ancient times. I was surprised that I enjoyed this one. The whole aspect of the Roman lifestyle and gladiators and the Roman's love of the games in the arena should have been enough to throw me off, but I ended up liking it. Hadassah's example of faith and forgiveness were incredibly inspiring. Another plus was the length of the book--500+ pages. I am a fan of thick books that make me feel smarter just for holding them. :)