Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Phoenix... a book review


Title: Phoenix
Publisher: Griffyn Ink
Pub Date: October 2, 2012
ISBN: 9781937996093
Fiction - Adult: Mystery, Detective, Suspense

“Great fast-paced mystery with enough twists and turns in the plot
to keep the most avid reader hooked!”

~ Ellen C., blogger and avid reader, GA

Book description from

Jason Mondy’s world is unraveling.

His seemingly secure job as a fire fighter is suddenly thrown into chaos. The bright spot in his week is that he rescued two children from a house fire, but he returns home that night to find all his furniture is missing. His girlfriend has left him without warning and his nightmares keep him from sleeping. Even just a simple trip home to find some rest leads his adoptive mother to sit him down and tell him that maybe his troubles aren’t quite as innocuous as they seem. Then his she divulges a secret she’s kept for over twenty-six years . . .

Jason has a brother he doesn’t remember existed.

He doesn’t remember his life before he was adopted at age seven. He only knows that he was rescued from the fire that took his birth mother’s life. But the story is deeper than that, and the foundation on which he built his world is now cracking. The brother he doesn't remember it out there somewhere, left behind.

Armed with only this stunning new piece of information, Jason embarks on a quest to find the truths buried deep in his past. As he searches, one by one the pieces of his life fall like dominoes. And the more he uncovers, the more everything he thought he knew about himself and his past begins to turn to ash.

His truth isn’t true at all . .

                                                             *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

While researching his brother's death from the fire he was rescued from, Jason opens up a hornet's nest.  Why can't he find a death certificate?  What really happened in the fire that took his birth mother's life?  Why is someone trying to keep it all a secret?

As we meet Jason and the other fire fighters from Smithfield Fire Station #2, we are drawn into their life and careers.  Add in a sub-standard firefighter with an attitude and a city restructuring its emergency aid and you already have a great story.  Include the real-life search for missing siblings in the foster care system, and you had a hit! 

A.J. Scudiere's depiction of the life of fire fighters and their station house is authentic--- down to the military-style of taking orders without question.  The characters are well-written; each with their own emotional highs and lows that comes from living day-to-day in a high stress career.

I know this book won't be published until October 2012, but you need to bookmark it now!

I received a complimentary copy of the ebook from Gryffin Ink and for my honest review.



Thursday, May 24, 2012

Threat of Darkness... a book review

Threat of Darkness  -     
        By: Valerie Hansen

Available: June 11, 2012
ISBN: 9780373444922

Book Description:

As a nurse and special advocate for children, Samantha Rochard is used to danger in small town Serenity, Arkansas. But when she suspects a little boy is in jeopardy from his powerful father, the danger turns on her. Her only source of protection? The handsome police officer who broke her heart five years ago. Yet after John Waltham comes to her rescue in more ways than one, Samantha must trust in him - and the Lord - to watch over her and save one sweet little boy.
*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
I enjoy the Love Inspired series of books and this one did not disappoint!  Valerie Hansen weaves in the often treacherous job of saving children from abusers.  This is not a glamorous job, but is a very rewarding job. 
As the mystery unfolds, Samantha is evaluating the possibility of abuse when strange things begin happening.  A purse snatching, a home and car invasion, and a dog - napping.  Through it all, she needs to rely on her former beau for protection without wearing her heart on her sleeve.
Valerie Hansen has written an excellent romance / suspense novel.  The twists and turns of the mystery draw the reader into the story to solve the crime and save the innocent victims.
Click HERE to read Chapter 1!
I received a complimentary ebook from Harlequin and NetGalley for my honest review.


Monday, May 21, 2012

My Big Bottom Blessing... a book review

My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life  -     
        By: Teasi Cannon

by Teasi Cannon
ISBN: 978-1-61795-076-6
Worthy Publishing
religion, Christian life, women

Imagine pulling up your favorite comfy, cozy chair next to your coolest friend.  Now, she is beginning to share her deepest hurts in a way that makes you say...

"That's me!"

"I thought I was the only one who felt this way."

"I'm not the only one who is hearing voices!"

Whenever I see a "Christian" self-help book I cringe and read in a lot of negative thoughts.  As a Christian and acknowledging Christ in my life, I know it is only by God's grace, mercy, and work in / through my life can I overcome my many mental strongholds.  That said, I am so glad I read Teasi's book!

Teasi Cannon has shared her painful past including weight issues, self-esteem, believing satan over God, and more.  Yet through her walk toward godly living, she has learned to identify the lies and find healing in Christ.  A self-help book this is not.  Not a "do A and B will happen."

Through her conversational style of writing and humor, the reader feels as though she is having a 'coffee talk' just with Teasi.  She doesn't put herself as the one with all the answers, but points you to God and His truths concerning you and your life.  She doesn't just talk about the Bible, but includes complete scriptures (along with their addresses) that reveal God's love and truth about His people... including you and me!  At the end of each chapter are pointed questions to reveal the heart of the reader to help us identify any weaknesses / lies we are believing.  A "Pep Talk" completes each chaper to encourage us in our healing process.

As she revealed the negative self-talk she had with herself, I could identify with her characters: trainer (body image), reflection (the mouth of moral weakness), scale god, sabby the saboteur, and entitlement.  I know I have a few more, too.

She pens a new acronym WWJFO.  Grab the book and learn what it is and how we can incorporate this into our lives!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Worthy Publishing and Handlebar Marketing for my honest review.



Friday, May 18, 2012

Vacation time...


It is that time of the year when we head off to Fall Creek Falls State Park and enjoy some downtime as a family and in the company of some great home schoolers.  Since this downtime excludes electronics, I won't be posting for the next 10 days.

I look forward to catching up with you all soon!

Happy (early) Summer!



Graduation Day has come...

We proudly announce the high school graduation
of our son and daughter,

Matthew Cook

Melissa Cook

Graduation exercises will take place at
Central Baptist Church
Hixson, TN
May 19, 2012 at 1 PM

Reception to follow at 4 PM.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

I am so proud of both of my teenagers.  They are fun-loving, well-grounded young people.  We will enjoy the summer with them both before they head to Auburn University in the fall.

Welcome to Auburn!



Saturday, May 12, 2012

Two Testaments... a book review


ISBN-13: 9780781404990
Available June 1, 2012
Publisher: Cook, David C.
Historical / Christian Fiction
Book Description:
The slightest spark will ignite an explosion. The tinderbox of broken political and racial relations in France and Algeria provides plenty of kindling. And the growing friction, especially in Algeria, will soon combust. A tentative ceasefire offers little to cool the heat.
And in the midst of the turmoil, Gabriella Madison guards the orphans in her care, while battling jealousy when Anne-Marie Duchemin, David’s former flame, arrives in Castelnau, France. As they protect the little ones in their care amid rising discomfort in the community with the multi-cultural orphanage, each wonders who David will choose.
Meanwhile, David is trapped in Algeria, caught in the turmoil of a country gone mad. He seeks a way to guard his life and, at the same time, protect the refugees he came to help. And escape seems impossible.
Unable to predict what lies ahead, Gabriella and David learn that in life, waiting is the hardest part.
The answers lie in two testaments.  ~
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
Set near the end of the Algerian Civil War (1954 - 1962), Two Testaments picks up where Two Crosses left off.  David is in love with Gabriella, but he feels pulled to return to Algeria to rescue the mother of his daughter in spite of the dangers of returning.  Once there, he is again in the middle of chaos and political unrest.  Is he able to save Anne-Marie and her friend, Moustafa?  Will they be able to save a few more children from being killed?
Elizabeth Musser does a wonderful job bringing this very torrential time in history to life.  Her knowledge of the French and Algerian culture and history flows easily from her pen to the pages.  I love learning about different times in history through well written historical fiction novels.  The characters in Two Testaments quickly become your good friends.  You will find yourself cheering them on and praying for them as they go through difficulties due to the war, messy relationships, and sin.  Elizabeth writes from the perspective of a Christian seeker including characters who are being led by the Spirit to know the true God and a rewarding relationship with Him. 
I LOVED this book.  It was a great second book in the trilogy series.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I received a complimentary eBook from David Cook Publishing and NetGalley for my honest review.

Baked Ranch Chicken Fingers


This simple recipe creates juicy, moist baked chicken fingers.  This is my easy go-to recipe when we are craving fried chicken!

Find these 3 simple ingredients and some boneless, skinless chicken.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Spray a cookie sheet with Pam.

Mix together....
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 package Ranch dressing packet

Coat chicken with mayonnaise and dredge in bread crumb mixture and place on cookie sheet.

Bake thin slices for 30 minutes (thicker ones for 40 minutes).


Cook's Family Recipe Book

This recipe may be linked to these great food blog hops!



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Ultimate Comprehensive Bible Timeline... a book review

The Ultimate Comprehensive Bible Timeline
by Rev. Jonathan Hall
ISBN: 9780980195224 (ePUB)
9780980195217 (ePDF)
Publisher:  Due Time Publishing

Book Description:

The Ultimate Comprehensive Bible Timeline charts the years from Adam to Jesus, providing a precise timeline of people and events that can be used by Bible students, teachers and scholars. The book includes seven horizontal timelines and 40 charts to graphically illustrate significant chronological issues. Additionally, a year-by-year timetable from 1949 BC to 70 AD is provided so that the precise counting of the years can be visually verified. The timelines, charts and timetables graphically show how all significant people and events fit together. The book also provides all the references and explanations for charting only 4,000 years from Adam to 70 AD. It clarifies the most troubling chronological passages, providing readers all the needed information to arrive at their own conclusions. In addition, The Ultimate Comprehensive Bible Timeline explains confusing subjects, including: the Creation and Religious calendars, Noah’s Flood year, the Sabbath year and Year of Jubilee, the holy days and feasts, the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the approximate date for Job, the meaning of Ezekiel’s 430 years of sin, the complexities related to the genealogy from Noah to Abraham, and the difficulties in correctly charting the judges, Eli and Samuel and the kings. Furthermore, The Ultimate Comprehensive Bible Timeline reviews in detail the four most commonly promoted chronologies, explaining how each evolved and the differences between them.

About the Author
Rev. Jonathan Hall is a graduate of Grace College, Winona Lake, Indiana, and Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland, Ohio. Since graduating in 1978, he has ministered at an independent Bible church and within the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. The fellow-ship is made up of independent Bible-believing evangelical churches rooted in the Brethren movement, birthed in Germany by Alexander Mack in 1708. In 1995, Hall felt an intense desire to study thoroughly Bible chronology for several reasons. This included the desire to provide a coherent Bible-based timeline as a part of an overall consistent, historically accurate, biblical worldview. The Ultimate Comprehensive Bible Timeline is the result of that study.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
This is a great reference for every Bible study I have done.  I can't remember how many times I tried to put Biblical dates in historical context.  Not only does this book give clear timelines, it also explains the when and why of the Jewish feasts - something I've always wanted to understand better.
Rev. Hall has done a remarkable job pulling together this Biblical timeline.  It is so important to have a Biblical worldview while studying scripture and learning world history.  The colorful charts are easy to understand and apply to your current Bible or history lessons. I will be using this wonderful reference for many years to come.

As a student of the Bible, I would prefer a hardbound copy of this book.  I find it more stressful to try to locate specifics in an eBook.

For more information on this book, click HERE.

I received a complimentary ebook from Bookmasters and NetGalley for my honest review.



Resonance... a book review


Book Title: Resonance
Author: A. J. Scudiere
Publisher: Griffyn Ink
ISBN: 0979931003

Disclaimer:  This is NOT a Christian book.  Contains mild language and one sexual situation. Book Description:

The shift is coming. Soon. Dr. David Carter knows this. However, he’s a geologist, so ‘soon’ means anywhere from tomorrow to a thousand years from now. People are dying. Now. Drs. Jordan Abellard and Jillian Brookwood are standing at the edge of SuperAIDS. Or are they? They won’t be able to figure it out if they can’t get some authorization signed - and soon. But they’re peons and no one is paying attention. Whole species died at the last polar shift. 65 million years ago. Right now Dr. Becky Sorenson has some seriously mutated frogs in her lab. In L.A. bees are making abnormal columns on the side of the freeways. In Georgia, birds are migrating out of season. It all makes a sick kind of sense when the doctors consider that the last magnetic shift is strangely coincidental to the dinosaur die-out. And the only similarity in the problems today is that each is occurring in a ‘hotspot’ - a pocket of reverse polarity tells them all them all the shift is already here.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Just as the above description leaves you scratching your head, so will the beginning chapters of this book.  Many characters are introduced with no real connection among any of them.  What does a biologist, geologist, and two medical doctors from the CDC have in common?  As the story progresses, the links between the main characters slowly becomes apparent. 

Geologist... the polarity of the earth
Biologist... animal species mutating and/or dying off
Medical doctors... diagnosing the odd symptoms which are cropping up worldwide

I enjoyed the premise of this book - new and refreshing.  Once the confusion cleared up, the characters were well written.  The twists and turns of the plot kept me wondering what was going to happen next. 

My rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

I received a complimentary copy of the ebook from Griffyn Ink via NetGalley for my honest review.



Monday, May 7, 2012

Gardening: Early May 2012

It has been another long, hectic week at the ol' homestead.  Between scouting, work, and school, I managed to plant 7 tomato plants, 1 cucumber plant, 1 jalapeno pepper,  and peppermint (in a pot).  The trellis was also pulled out of storage and set-up for the cucumber and tomatoes.  I also planted seeds of a few favorite spices: 2 oregano, 1 parsley (my last one bolted), and 2 cilantro.

Before I post the pictures, I NEED HELP! 

1.  I will be planting pole bean (vining) in 9 squares - 8 plants in each square.  What is an easy and inexpensive way to "pole" or support them?  I can't make another trellis because it won't cover all 9 squares well and I'm worried about the shade it may cause.

2.  What can I plant in the 5 squares between the tomatoes and the pepper plants?  It must be easy to maintain since I won't be able to get at it as easily.  Please send some ideas my way!

Here are the 9 squares a'waiting to be seeded with the pole beans....

The empty 5 squares between the tomatoes and peppers...

The whole garden.... (so far)
Tomatoes: 3 Romas, 1 Giganta, 2 Better Boys, 1 Brandywine
Peppers: 4 green bells, 2 yellow bells, 2 red bells, 1 jalapeno
1 vine cucumber

The Pepper Patch

The lonesome cucumber...

My early producing squash family!

Spaghetti Squash...

Yellow Summer Squash

Zucchini Squash.... YUM!

At our local farmer's market, I found the following SALAD BOWL.  Isn't it just great!  There are at least 5 different varieties!  This is just for inside growing... love it!  I have already been grazing on it and you really can't tell.  These plants should produce for about two months; so, in about 3 weeks, I will be planting seeds to transplant later.

The backporch garden is doing well.  The strawberries are producing, and the peppermint smells wonderful.  The basil plant looks like it has seen better days, but check out what I harvested today!  The oregano has been a digging site for some wilderness creature, and it has affected the roots.  I will continue to harvest and will replace with the seedling inside.


Basil and harvest bowl

Soon to be seedlings...

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

Happy Gardening!

This post may be linked to Tuesday Garden Party and Bloomin' Tuesday.



Saturday, May 5, 2012

Chicken and Rice Casserole


How many ways can you make chicken?  Well, I have put together a simple casserole, so now we can add one more to the list!


1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/3 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3/4 tsp cajun seasoning
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into smaller pieces
1 cup French's French Fried onions, crushed


1)  Stir soup, water, rice, onion powder, black pepper, cajun seasoning, and vegetables in a large bowl.  Spray of 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray and pour mixture into it.

2)  Top the rice mixture with the chicken.  Season the chicken pieces with additional cajun seasoning.

3)  Cover.

4)  Bake at 375 F for 50 minutes or until chicken and rice are done.  Top with crushed onion rings and bake for 5 more minutes.

5)  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes.  Stir rice before serving.

6)  Enjoy!

Note:  I didn't have mixed vegetables, so I used frozen broccoli florets.  Tasted great!  I doubled the recipe to cover 5 adults and still have enough for 2 leftover lunches.

Recipe adapted from Campbell's Possibilities.

This recipe may be linked to these terrific food blogs.



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

And the winners are....

Not This Time, Crossroads Crisis Center Series #3   -     
        By: Vicki Hinze

#4   Janice


#2   Carlene

Congratulations to Janice and Carlene!


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