Friday, December 21, 2012

An Amish Kitchen... a book review

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Thomas Nelson Publisher
356 pages with reading group guide
Available: NOW!
By: Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, and Kelly Long
Includes 45 Old Order Amish Recipes
 
 

Book Description

The Amish Kitchen is the Heart of the Home – and the Ideal Setting for Stories of Love and Hope.
Fall in Paradise, Pennsylvania, always brings a brisk change in the weather. This season also ushers in unexpected visitors, new love, and renewed hope for three women.

Fern has a green thumb for growing healing herbs, but longs for love to bloom in her life. Then the next-door neighbor’s oldest son, Abram, comes running into Fern’s kitchen seeking help for his little sister. The crisis soon leads to a promise of romance—until mistrust threatens to end the growing attraction.

Nearby, Hannah runs her parents’ bed and breakfast, Paradise Inn—but her life feels nothing like Paradise. She longs for a man of integrity to enter her life, but never expected him to knock on the front door looking for a room. Will she be able trust Stephen with her future once she discovers his mysterious past?

When a storm blows a tree onto Eve’s farmhouse, she has little choice but to temporarily move her family into her parents’ home. Outside of cooking together in the kitchen, Eve and her mother can’t agree on anything. But this may be just the recipe for hope in healing old wounds.

Three Amish stories—each celebrating love, family, and faith—all taking place in a tight-knit community where the kitchen truly is the heart of the home.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Find a comfortable chair and a hot cup of tea and curl up with three heartwarming novellas from three wonderful Amish writers!  As in any home, the kitchen is the heart of the home.  Even in my shotgun kitchen, up to ten people have come together to share life, love, and faith.  Although all three stories are written by different authors, the characters are intertwined.  Not only do they live in the same community, but also share a women's prayer group.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
An Amish Love, also from Beth Wiseman, is another terrific novella with three stories of faith and love.  Co-written with Kelly Long and Kathleen Fuller.

I received a complimentary e-book of An Amish Kitchen from BookSneeze.com and Thomas Nelson Publisher for my honest review.  No other compensation was received.

Blessings,

    Ellen

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bold as Love... a book review

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Bold As Love: What Can Happen When We See People the Way God Does  -     
        By: Bob Roberts Jr.
 
Available: January 6, 2013
Bob Roberts, Jr.
Thomas Nelson Publishers
ISBN 978-1-4002-0420-5
182 pp plus notes (ppbk)
 
How do you relate to your neighbors who are different from you? 
 
No, I'm not talking about how much money they make, what fancy toys they have,
or even their ethnicity.
 
How do you spend time with neighbors who are not Christian?
 
Maybe they are Muslim, Hindu, Buddhists, or atheist.  Do you keep your distance or just say a passing hello if you meet to cross the street at the same time?
 
We are no longer separated from other cultures by our countries or nation.  With our global economy, many faiths live in America and most likely just down the street from you.  In Bold as Love, Pastor Bob Roberts, Jr. shows us what is looks like to truly love our neighbor regardless of faith, culture, or nationality.
 
Bob Roberts, Jr. is the founding pastor of Northwood Church in Keller, Texas.  He has made it his mission to not only teach about sharing your faith with non-Christians, but has also introduced it to his own congregation.  We are reminded that we need to first have relationships with others.  Without spending time with people, we cannot share the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Why would they listen to us?  He and his church have teamed up with a Jewish congregation and a Muslim one.  The not only serve the community together, they also share worship service time.  Not for the sake of converting each other, but to better understand the other faiths and respect the people and their beliefs.
 
Bob Roberts, Jr. journey has taken him to many corners of the world which he shares in Bold as Love.  We can live out our faith while forging relationships with non-Christians.  It just takes faith!
 

It is a whole new world just outside your front door. 

Go and embrace others and spread God's love

through acts of kindness and frienships!

 
I received a complimentary copy of Bold as Love from Handlebar Publishing and Thomas Nelson for my  honest opinion.  I received no further compensation.
 
Blessings,
 
    Ellen 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

His Love Endures Forever... a book review

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ISBN:  9781595548887
Series: Land of Canaan
 

Book Description


An unplanned pregnancy. An absent father. Can love really endure all things?

Danielle Kent is anything but Amish. But as destiny would have it, she has fallen in love with an Amish man.

Now she’s 18, pregnant, and hopeful that the child’s Amish father—Matthew Lapp—will do the right thing and marry her. She knows Matthew plans to leave his Colorado settlement for a life in the Englisch world. But that plan never included a baby.

When Matthew walks away from her and their unborn child, she has nowhere to turn. Her unlikely friendship with Levi offers some comfort—yet they have so little in common. This wasn’t the plan she had for her life, and she has never felt so alone. She doesn’t want to be pregnant. Doesn’t want to be Amish. Doesn’t want to trust God.

And yet.

God has plans beyond what her mind can imagine . . . loving plans to show a lost young woman that His love never fails but endures forever.
 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
His Love Endures Forever is the third book in the Land of Canaan series.  Beth Wiseman has written a wonderful story of redemption.  This is not a typical 'boy meets girl and everything works out for the best' story.  This is a real life situation in which many of our young people are living through. 
 
The difference?  GOD
 
God uses even an unplanned pregnancy and an unlikely friendship to bring good from all things.  I had not trouble relating to Levi' mom throughout the story.  She is the epitome of the mama bear protecting her young.  Love her for it!  Beth's writing pulled me into the lives of each of the characters.  I love how a simple fiction book can remind me to wait on GOD, not run ahead of Him. 
 
Rating: A
 
I look forward to reading the first two books in this series: Seek Me with All Your Heart and The Wonder of Your Love.  Even without reading the first two books, I had no trouble following the storyline or characters.  Beth seemlessly blended it all together!  Great job!


I received a complimentary e-book from Thomas Nelson and their BookSneeze program for my honest review.  I received no monetary compensation.
 
Blessings,
 
     Ellen
 
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bible Detective... a puzzle search book

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bible detective cover
by Peter Martin and illustrated by Peter Kent
ISBN: 978-0-7459-6276-4
Lion Children's Book
 
The Bible Detective is the ultimate "find the hidden pictures" book for both children and adults based on Bible stories.
 
Snuggle up alongside your favorite youngster, and learn some great Bible stories while searching for specific people and animals in the detailed pictures from Peter Kent.
 
This is a great time to discuss Biblical history with your child(ren) and instill a love of learning!  After you work through the book, have your child(ren) narrate the stories back to you with the pictures as a visual reminder.
 
I only have one major problem with this book.  It is written with a Christian perspective from a Christian publisher, yet it does not use B.C. or A.D. for their time references.  As a Christian parent and follower of Jesus Christ, I have a BIG problem with the secular references of BCE and CE.
 
My rating: 2.5 out of 5
 
I received a complimentary copy of Bible Detective: a puzzle search book from Kregel Publishing and Lion Children's Book for my honest and fair review.
 
 
Blessings,
 
Ellen

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Darkness Rising... a book review

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Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson
the East Salem Trilogy  # 2
ISBN: 978-1595549433
Available: October 2, 2012
 
Publisher Description:
 
The evil in East Salem is no longer content to hide in the shadows. The stakes—and the darkness—are rising.
Dani Harris thought there wasn’t much left that could surprise her after serving as a forensic psychiatrist in East Salem. And Tommy Gunderson has faced few challenges in his life that he couldn’t overcome by either physical strength or his celebrity status.
But as they race to uncover what’s really happening behind the high walls of St. Adrian’s Academy, it becomes clear that supernatural forces have been at work here for generations. And now their focus is on making sure Dani and Tommy don’t interfere.
When the unseen becomes seen, faith is the only weapon strong enough to fight in a battle involving not just murder and betrayal—but angels and demons.
 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
After thoroughly enjoying the first book, Waking Hours, in this trilogy, I looked forward to continuing the story of Dani, Tommy, and the evil that is lurking in East Salem.
 
For a trilogy, Lis Wiehl had trouble writing a smooth transition from Waking Hours to Darkness Rising.  The story of Dani and Tommy continues, but as details from book 1 are incorporated in, the reader gets lost.  The transition "flashbacks" continue into the middle of the book which seems a bit much.  If you plan on reading this book, please read book 1 FIRST! 
 
As for the story, I once again enjoyed being immersed in the world of good versus evil.  Lis draws you into the eternal battle against evil.  Darkness Rising was interesting and engaging.  The new characters bring a new dimension to the ongoing saga and incorporates God's ongoing relationship with man.
 
Due to the choppy and confusing transition from book 1,
I am rating this a 3.5 out of 5
 
Again, the story of a supernatural battle waging unseen in our world is still amazing!
 
 
To read the first chapter, click HERE, scroll down to "Meet the Author." 
Then, click on READ MORE and Chapter 1 will open up.
 
I received a complimentary e-copy of Darkenss Rising from Thomas Nelson Publishers and the Booksneeze Blogging program for my honest review.
 
Blessings,
 
    Ellen

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Romanov Cross... a book review

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The Romanov Cross: A Novel
 
Available: March 2013
ISBN: 9780553807806
mystery, suspense, thriller
historical fiction (Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Inuit Eskimo)
 
Nearly one hundred years ago, a desperate young woman crawled ashore on a desolate arctic island, carrying a terrible secret and a mysterious, emerald-encrusted cross. A century later, acts of man, nature, and history converge on that same forbidding shore with a power sufficient to shatter civilization as we know it.  ~ Goodreads.com
 
Publisher Description:
 
A small Alaskan island is the setting for Masello's latest, genre-bending thriller. Dr. Frank Slater is an epidemiologist, dishonorably discharged from the army for countermanding orders while attempting to save the life of an Afghani girl. But he is left with one way to redeem himself in the eyes of the government. Global warming is melting the Alaskan permafrost, and the graves of an old Russian colony are becoming exposed. The victims all died of the Spanish flu-one of the the deadliest viruses of all time. Only Frank and a hand-picked team can stem the reintroduction of the virus into society. But within the graveyard lies another secret...and the answer to one of Russian history's most enduring mysteries: What happened to Anastasia Romanov? Interwoven with Frank's story is Anastasia's tale, as she struggles to survive in a post-Revolution Russia.
 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
Robert Masello has written a wonderful tale of death, love, and redemption.  The believability of the characters draws you in from the opening pages.  Frank chooses to disoby direct orders to save a young girl, and in the process, is court-martialed.  To redeem his career, he is sent to a frozen land to contain a possible Spanish flu outbreak.  While there, he meets his match in the person of Nika, Port Olov's town mayor.  Frank not only has to contain a possible medical threat, but also keep Nika safe.  Add in a few greedy thieves and an exciting story follows!
 
Is he able to complete his mission as ordered or does he run into unforeseen problems?

This is the first book I have read from Robert Masello but it won't be the last.  His writing style keeps you involved in the characters' lives and guessing what is around the next page!


I received an ecopy of The Romanov Cross from Random House via Edelweiss for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Friday, October 12, 2012

Love Unscripted... a book review

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Love Unscripted
ISBN: 978-1451533965
Publisher: Atria Books
Contemporary Fiction
Romance

An A-List Movie Star... 
Pursuing his dream, Ryan Christenson did not take into account the crazy life stardom would give him. Stalkers, paparazzi, promoters and Hollywood studios each want a piece of him. While escaping crazed fans in the small town of Seaport, he ducks into Mitchell's Pub and meets an unlikely friend.
 
A Small Town Girl...
Taryn, the owner of the pub, expects a self-centered actor, but finds out he is funny, charming, and extremely handsome. As their friendship grows, she is drawn to him and he to her.  Since she is still healing from a bitter break-up, Taryn is hesitant to become invoved again; especially with a movie star!
 
A Relationship that Doesn't Follow the Script... 
As their relationship moves from friends to lovers, will it be strong enough to withstand the overwhelming demands from fans, photographers, and tabloid lies?  Or will their unscripted love affair end in heart break for both?
 
Read Chapter 1 HERE!
 
With well-written characters and a plot that keeps you involved, Love Unscripted is a wonderful romance book.  I was a bit concerned with the length of the book, but was sad when the story ended.
 
Thank you Tina Reber for writing such a wonderful book!  I didn't want to put it down.  I'm looking forward to reading the next book Love Unrehearsed in the series set to be released January 2013.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Atria and NetGalley for my honest review.
 
 
Blessings,
 
Ellen

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Girl in the Glass... a book review

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The Girl in the Glass    -     
        By: Susan Meissner
 
ISBN: 9780307730428
 

Publisher's Description

Renaissance is a word with hope infused in every letter.

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
What hopes and dreams do you see when you peer into the looking "glass?"  Do you see what was or what could be?  Have you put off your dreams or have unfulfilled promises in your life because of situations out of your control?  Well, I know I do.
Step into the pages of The Girl in the Glass.  Through Meg's life of work and dysfunctional family relations, we see a glimpse of ourselves... or maybe a friend.  She is not the strongest person, and the unexpected solo trip to Florence helps her realize she can accomplish more that she thought.  Meg is able to finally break free of past hurts and disappointments and learns to embrace the future.  I truly enjoy a book in which I can relate to the characters. 
Susan Meissner has woven a wonderful story of the bonds that connect us to each other.
My Rating:  4 out of 5 stars
 
I received a complimentary copy of The Girl in the Glass from Waterbrook Press for my honest review.
 Blessings,
      Ellen

Friday, September 21, 2012

Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic

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Nick Vujicic - Unstoppable
 
How would you see life if you were born without any limbs... arms or legs?  Would you sink to an ongoing state of depression, or would you rise above your circumstances and live the best life you can?  Nick Vujicic has risen above his physical limitations!  An amazing life story which will change your own perspective of life!
 
 
I cannot say how I would see God if I were in Nick's "shoes?" 
Would I still see God as loving and caring or spiteful and unloving?
 
Read Chapter 1 of Unstoppable HERE!
 
I look forward to reading Nick's lastest book Unstoppable and hope you do, too!
 
Blessings,
 
Ellen

Friday, September 14, 2012

just for fun!

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Thank you to my facebook friends who gave me
a much needed giggle this morning!
 
Blessings,
 
     Ellen

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Guardian... a book review

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Heather Burch
ISBN: 978-0310728214
Zondervan Publisher
Available: Oct. 9, 2012
Young Adult, Mystery, Science Fiction, Christian fiction
Book 2 in the Halflings Trilogy

 
Book Description:

The mission to safeguard Nikki Youngblood depends on the fragile alliance of two half-angel, half-human guardians, both struggling with intense feelings for the girl who has been assigned to their care. Mace, steadfast and deeply in love, wants to protect Nikki at all costs, while Raven's loyalty to Nikki finds him advocating for her independence and battling his own darker inclinations. At the same time, Nikki finds it harder and harder to choose between the two heavenly beings she may never have.   


Dangers intensify and tensions between Mace and Raven flare as the purpose of their mission becomes clear. Can their defenses hold up to master manipulator Damon Vessler and the powerful secret he holds regarding Nikki's heritage? Can anyone protect Nikki from her true purpose and destiny?  
 
*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 
 
In this much anticipated follow-up book to Halflings, Nikki's adventures take her and the Halflings across the globe.   As they seek to win over evil and learn the plans of their foe, Mace and Raven vie for her attention.  Will either one win her heart or will she choose no one?  After over-hearing the Halflings speak about her and the problems she has brought them, she decides to return home to Damon Vessler and continue her martial arts training.  Under his direction, she taps into her darker side and now lives for revenge.  Is this what she is made for?  Will the Halflings be able to convince her of her true calling?
 
Heather Burch has once again drawn the reader into the lives of Nikki and the Halflings.  I found myself wanting to give Nikki advice and help as I read the book.  I love it when the author has the uncanny ability to make me part of the storyline!  I can't wait to read the final book of this terrific trilogy.
 
Click HERE to read my review of the Halflings.
 
Halflings  -     
        By: Heather Burch


 
I received a complimentary e-copy of this book from Zondervan and NetGalley for my honest review.
 
Blessings,
 
     Ellen

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

May we never forget.... 9/11

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The Eleventh Of September
 
We mourn their loss this day this year
Those now with God, no danger near
 
So many loved ones left do stand
Comforting loss throughout our land
 
My heart goes out to those who do
No one can fathom what they view
 
I firmly pray for peace of mind
Dear God please help each one to find
 
 
And to our soldiers now at war
God guide above, at sea, on shore
 
They are the best, I have no doubt
Our country’s pride, complete, devout
 
The finest force you’ll ever see
All freedom grown through liberty 
 
One final thought comes clear to me
For what must live in infamy
 
Absolutely – We’ll Remember
The Eleventh – Of September
 

©2002 Roger J. Robicheau
“It (The Eleventh of September) was read before the United States Senate by Senator John Kerry on September 4, 2002, and is now a permanent part of our country’s history.  Officially it was Congressional Record Article 27 of 53, page S8196.”  The Poetic Plumber   Originally posted at Time2Save Workshops.com.


Blessings,

    Ellen

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Widow of Saunders Creek... a book review

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The Widow of Saunders Creek
 
ISBN: 9780307730442
WaterBrook Press
Fiction / Suspense
 
Book Description:
 
 A grief that knows no boundary.  A love without any limit.  A need that doesn’t end at death.

Corrie Saunders grew up in a life of privilege. But she gave it all up for Jarrod, her Army husband, a man she knew was a hero when she vowed to spend her life with him. She just didn’t expect her hero to sacrifice his life taking on an Iraqi suicide bomber.

Six months after Jarrod’s death, Corrie retreats to the family home her husband inherited deep in the Missouri Ozarks. She doesn’t know how to live without Jarrod—she doesn’t want to. By moving to Saunders Creek and living in a house beloved by him, she hopes that somehow her Jarrod will come back to her.

Something about the house suggests maybe he has. Corrie begins to wonder if she can feel Jarrod’s presence.

Jarrod’s cousin Eli is helping Corrie with the house’s restoration and he knows that his dead cousin is not what Corrie senses. Eli, as a believing man and at odds with his mystically-oriented family members, thinks friendly visits from beyond are hogwash. But he takes spirits with dark intentions seriously. Can he convince Corrie that letting go of Jarrod will lead to finding her footing again— and to the One she can truly put her faith into?
 
A grief that knows no boundary. A love without any limit. A need that doesn’t end at death. Corrie Saunders grew up in a life of privilege. But she gave it all up for Jarrod, her Army husband, a man she knew was a hero when she vowed to spend her life with him. She just didn’t expect her hero to sacrifice his life taking on an Iraqi suicide bomber.  
 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
Read Chapter 1 HERE!
 
Tracey Bateman has written another well-thought novel.  What does happen after you die?  Do we believe God and His Word or do we secretly look for ghosts and life-after-death here on earth?  To help us all see truth for ourselves, Tracey has written A Widow of Saunders Creek from the perspective of Corrie and Eli.  By using this style, the reader can understand their thoughts and actions more clearly.
 
A Widow of Saunders Creek is not about witchcraft and black magic.  It is about God's redeeming work through His Son Jesus Christ.  I was reminded of the power of God's Word in my life through this story.  Thank you, Tracey!
 
My Rating: A
 
I received a complimentary e-copy of The Widow of Saunders Creek from WaterBrook Press and their Blogging for Books program for my honest review.
 
Blessings,
 
Ellen
 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Song of the Brokenhearted... a book review

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Song of the Brokenhearted, Sheila Walsh

Available: August 21, 2012
ISBN: 9781595546876
Christian Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Ava has risen above the poverty of her youth and her dysfunctional family.  Now, in her late 40's, she has a wonderful family, a picture-perfect home, and a few secrets in her closet.  In Song of the Brokenhearted by Sheila Walsh and Cindy Martinusen Coloma, Ava enjoys a life filled with high school football games, her daughter's upcoming wedding, and a ministry to people in crisis - those with broken hearts.  Her life is neat and tidy and planned.... even to 5 and 10 years down the road.


"Whenever something is too neat and tidy, GOD has a way of shaking it up."
(p. 48)

She is terrific stepping in and helping people in need, but what happens when Ava is the person in crisis?  When her husband begins working long hours and disappearing in the night, she assumes an affair.  What she learns is that her husband's company is being investigated and all of their assets are frozen.  Her life now includes no more maids... no more yard men, and no more shopping sprees. 

Can their marriage survive this change in financial status?  As Ava's life crumbles around her, an unexpected gift is left on her front porch.  With this gift, she realizes she still needs to face her past and share it with her family.  Will she allow God to write a new song on her heart?

Song of the Brokenhearted is a wonderful book.  I was pulled into Ava's life story from page 1!  If you know of Sheila Walsh's financial story, you will find some of her own struggles on the pages of this book.  How does it feel to learn that your husband has withheld financial woes from you? 

My rating:  A

I received a complimentary copy of this e-book from Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze program for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Montana Dreams... a book review

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Montana Dreams

Available: September 2012
ISBN: 9780373877638
Inspirational Romance


Publisher's Description

Bumping into her ex-fiancé shatters Millie Wilson all over again. Now that she's back in Montana to care for her dying father, her real burden is the secret she's never divulged to Hunter McKaslin.

Millie can't blame Hunter for his anger upon learning he's a father. He's never gotten over opening his heart, only to have it broken. Yet Millie senses a new goodness in Hunter. Finding their lost dreams now seems possible—if forgiveness and trust can find a place in this fresh start.

Read an excerpt from Montana Dreams.


Montana Dreams could be a story written by many young women who fall in love, show their love, and become pregnant out-of-wedlock.  Millie handles her situation by leaving the man she loves and choosing to raise the baby on her own.  She doesn't come to this conclusion easily, but after opening her heart to Hunter, he remains adamant that he will never get married or have a family.

This story of love and forgiveness is written in many relationships in the book.  How can Millie forgive her father when he himself hasn't changed or asked for forgiveness?  Can Millie keep her heart safe from Hunter while she is in town caring for her father?  Does she want to?

I enjoyed reading the continuing story of the McKaslin family.  They live real lives with real problems... ones many of the readers can relate to!

I received a complimentary e-book from Love Inspired Harlequin and NetGalley.com for my honest review.


Blessings,

     Ellen

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beautiful Disaster... a book review

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Beautiful Disaster

Atria Books
Available: August 14, 2012
ISBN-13: 9781476712048
Fiction: Adult / Coming of Age


Publisher's Description:

The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

This isn't just another "girl meets boy" story.  The challenges that Abby and Travis deal with are real and heartbreaking.  Can two hurting people from two dysfunctional families get past themselves and make a relationship work?  Both Travis and Abby feel they are not worthy of the other one's love; that because of their past history, they are not good enough.  How many of us can relate to this?  Their best friends and confidantes, Shep and America, are both their loudest cheerleaders and fierce protectors.

I did not want to put Beautiful Disaster down!  Unfortunately, I had to go to work and sleep at some point.  I'm so glad I was able to finish before bed tonight!

My rating: A
(5 out of 5 stars)

In the sequel, Walking Disaster (Beautiful #2), Jamie McGuire writes from Travis' perspective.  The expected release will be in 2013.

I received a complimentary e-book from Atria Books and NetGalley.com for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Wildflowers from Winter... a book review

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Wildflowers from Winter    -     
        By: Katie Ganshert

ISBN: 978-0-307-73038-1
$ 9.99
Fiction - Christian - Romance
Available now

Going home... this simple phrase can evoke so many different emotions.

Bethany, an up-and-coming architect in Chicago, has escaped a hard past and is moving forward in her life.  When an unexpected phone call from her mom shatters her day, she returns home just long enough to pay her respects to her childhood friend and visit with her grandfather.

She quickly returns to Chicago to find her life there has also turned upside down.  Now, with no job and no boyfriend, she moves back home to start a new life.  Can she make peace with her past?  Can God be a loving God... one who is desiring her to "come home?"

Click HERE to read Chapter 1!

Many Christian novels are written around the theme of returning home - not just in the physical sense, but the spiritual one, too.  In Katie's book, Wildflowers from Winter, she explores why someone would leave home and God and how God calls her home.

I enjoyed Wildflowers from Winter.  It did take me a few chapters to get into the story, but after that, I was hooked.  I like to put myself into the shoes of the characters.  How would I react if in Bethany's shoes?  How do I see God in my own life? 


I received a complimentary copy of Wildflowers from Winter from WaterBrook Press and their Blogging for Books program for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gazpacho Soup

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I love all things tomato!  Add in some fresh cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, and garlic and you have  the makings for a great cold soup.


This is the perfect time to use all those wonderful vegetables you are harvesting from the garden or finding at the farmer's market.


Ingredients:

1 lb. red tomatoes, soft
1 onion
1 green bell pepper, large
1 cucumber
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
5 soup spoons vegetable oil
5 soup spoons vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 glasses of water to desired consistency

Directions:

1)  Cut up all ingredients into a large bowl.


2)  Blend in blender, adding water as needed.




3)  Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours to combine flavors.

4)  Enjoy!

Notes:

As you can tell, I used 1 yellow and 1 orange bell pepper for this batch.  It still turned out well, but not as spicy as it would have using green ones.  Also, I prefer red wine vinegar, but others will do.  To add a little more kick, I tossed in a couple jalapeno peppers.  Yum!

My gazpacho isn't deep red in color like many restaurants.  I choose to keep it as real and healthy as possible.  Many restaurants add either tomato juice or V-8 to their recipe to supposedly make it more appealing.

Cook Family Recipes by Chef Ellen

This recipe may be linked to these wonderful recipe hops!

 
Blessings,

     Ellen

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vegetables: Fajita-style

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I don't know about you, but I love a great fajita!  In an attempt to to find new ways to use the produce from my garden, I came up with the following recipe.  It is not only good for fajitas, but the vegetables are great on their own!

Ingredients:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (dressing / marinade for a lighter taste)
Fajita Seasoning Mix
2 medium carrots
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
broccoli florets
1 medium onion
1-2 small / medium zucchini



Directions:

1)  Julienne or dice the vegetables you wish to use.
2)  Lightly coat bottom of frying pan with olive oil and heat on Med-High.  Add vegetables.
3)  Cover and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
4)  Add 1 packet of Fajita Seasoning Mix and mix well.
5)  Continue cooking until vegetables are crispy al dente.
6)  Serve with warm tortillas or eat right out of the pan!
7)  Enjoy!




NOTES:

1)  This is one of those recipes that is almost better the second time around!

2)  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand.  I have added diced tomatoes after the vegetables are done.

3)  Adjust the seasonings to your taste.  Add more cayenne pepper or even red pepper flakes to increase the heat!

4)  For this batch, I used 2 packets of Fajita Seasoning Mix.  I had a large mixing bowl of veggies to stir-fry!

This recipe may be linked to the following great food hops.

Cook Family Recipes by Chef Ellen

Blessings,

     Ellen

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tidewater Inn... a book review

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ISBN: 9781595547811
Available: ebook 7/17/12, paperback 7/29/12
The Hope Beach Series #1
by Colleen Coble
Christian fiction / Romantic Suspense

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer's talent and love of history. She's delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she's met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she's there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby's under suspicion for the crime.

Libby's dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.               (Publisher's Description)

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

a kidnapped friend

a father's last wish

a cave keeping secrets

a family she never knew

What would you do if you witnessed your best friend and business partner kidnapped via a beach webcam?  How hard would you work to find her knowing that the police feel you are the prime suspect?  Who would you trust to look out for your best interests when many feel you don't belong there?  How do you extend grace and mercy to siblings you have never met and who don't want to know you?

Colleen Coble has an award-winning book on her hands.  She has brought Libby, Nicole, Vanessa, Brent, Aunt Pearl, and more to life!  The relationships among the characters is well written... stressing both the positive and negative feelings.  The emotional ups-and-downs keep the reader involved along with the many twists and turns in the plot.  The Christian faith of the characters is woven in so easily... from a simple WWJD necklace to a simple prayer of faith to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.  Great story!  One that will stay with me for a long time!

I look forward to reading the second book in The Hope Beach series, Rosemary Cottage, available July 2013!

I received a complimentary ebook of Tidewater Inn from Thomas Nelson and their BookSneeze program for my honest review.


Blessings,

     Ellen
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