Friday, November 29, 2013

Every Waking Moment... a book review

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Cover: Every Waking Moment
 
Every Waking Moment
by Chris Fabry
Available now!
ISBN: 978-1-4143-4863-6
Fiction, Christian

Meet Treha Langsam, a mysterious young woman with a gift - a gift for reaching the unreachable.  When Treha receives an anonymous letter bringing her to Desert Gardens to work, little did she know that her story would intersect with one of the residents.  With no memory of her childhood, Treha spends her days helping the retired residents share their stories with a documentary team.  When the board of directors hire a new director, Treha loses her job and begins a journey unraveling her own past.  Is she ready to learn why she is the way she is? 
 
"As the truth slowly unravels, Treha and those around her must each tackle a difficult question: if this is as good as life gets, is that enough?" (back cover)

Read Chapter 1!

Chris Fabry writes from the heart and delves into the souls of his characters.  After a slow beginning, the pieces of the puzzle begin to come together.  He gives a voice to the aging population in Every Waking Moment, an insight into their thoughts and desires. During the documentary interviews, we see each resident striving to retain their dignity and independence. As Devlin and Jonah record their oral histories, they are intrigued by Treha and her gift.  Can they help her remember her past?  Is she the reason they are at Desert Garden?

Throughout the novel, Chris weaves the love of Christ - His forgiveness.  A message I needed to hear; God has a plan for each of us right where we are.  I do not have to be perfect for Him to use me, just open to His leading.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
B+

I received a complimentary copy of Every Waking Moment by Chris Fabry from Tyndale Publishing for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Peril... a book review

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Peril, Bloodline Trilogy Series #3   -     By: Jordyn Redwood
 
 
Peril

Bloodline Trilogy 3
 
by Jordyn Redwood
 
Kregel Publications
 
ISBN: 978-0-8254-4213-1
 
Available now!






A serial killer.
 
A marriage in trouble.
 
A mysterious medical experiment.
 
A family full of lies.


Pediatric nurse Morgan Adams feels like she can't face life much longer.  Her infant daughter is dead, her own kidneys are failing, and hospital horrors confront her every day.  When her mother reveals a stunning secret, it's the last straw for Morgan.  How an the faith she used to have survive in the face of her awful world?  How can she?
 
 
When a rogue soldier from her husband's medical trials comes after her, Morgan is almost grateful-until the people she loves come under fire.  Now, the pain of her past and the peril of the present may mean an explosive end for them all....                           Publisher's Description


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

As a critical care and emergency nurse, Jordyn Redwood has inside knowledge into the medical world.  In Peril, she combines both futuristic medical possibilities with the realities of those suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). 
 
The book began very slowly as Jordyn laid the foundation of the three seemingly separate storylines - sexual assault, an infant's death, and experimental research .  As you continue on, the storylines begin to find common ground.  At this point, the plot and action take off!  Add in some psychological twists and turns, and you have  a very well-written novel.  A novel I did not want to put down!
 
Although this is the third in the Bloodline Trilogy, I did not feel lost in Peril because I had not read the first two books - Proof (1) and Poison (2). 
 
Jordyn Redwood has opened the door to many conversations.  Is it ethical to use fetal cells?  If so, when should it be harvested?  How does ethics fit into the equation?  Who decides what is moral or amoral?  This novel is so much more than just a good read.  It gives the reader some meaty issues to consider.  Well done!
 
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
A-
 
I received a complimentary copy of Peril from Kregel Publishers for my honest review.
 
Blessings,
 
     Ellen

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fatal Tide... a book review

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Fatal Tide
East Salem Trilogy, #3
 
by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson
 
Thomas Nelson Publisher
 
Christian fiction / Mystery & Detective
 
ISBN 978-1-59554-946-4
 
Available: September 2013





So sad to come to the end of a trilogy.  Great book!  Great series!

Publisher's Description:

In East Salem, the elite St. Adrian’s Academy is at the nexus of a satanic apocalypse—and the fatal tide is rising.
 
When Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights is reunited with the pagans who commissioned it, a dark prophecy begins to unfold in East Salem, beginning with a savage double-murder by hellish creatures straight out of the painting itself. The lone survivor of the attack, a seventeen-year-old Brit, finds sanctuary at Tommy Gunderson’s home—and the place is soon surrounded by demons who seem to be biding their time…but for how long?
 
Tommy’s pond has been contaminated with Provivilan—an insidious drug that could transform New York City’s children into an army of violence-addicted murderers. But for an occult cabal in the upper echelons of Linz Pharmaceuticals, contaminating the water supply is just part of an ancient conspiracy against all of humankind.
 
As the clouds gather, Tommy and Dani realize they must infiltrate Linz and St. Adrian’s to stop the dissemination of Provivilan. Even then, it could take a tangible eruption of the battle between angels and demons to save humanity from the supernatural evils that have been summoned to East Salem.
 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson have written another top-seller!  East Salem Trilogy began with Waking Hours #1 and continued with Darkness Rising #2.  The story picks up on December 20th; George Gardener and Julian Villanegre are escorting Reese, a young man home from St. Adrian's, to England at Tommy Gunderson's wishes.
 
The evil that has taken over St. Adrian's Academy is seeping out into the world.  Dani and Tommy continue to battle the unseen forces while protecting those they love and care about.  As the demon creatures surround Tommy's home, his love for all thing "techy" helps them see what they are really up against.  With Reese's help and others, the true satanic conspiracy becomes clear and the battle lines are drawn.
 
I once again enjoyed being immersed in the world of good versus evil.  Thanks to Lis Wiehl for crafting a wonderful story of God's faithfulness to His children! 
 
I received a complimentary copy of Fatal Tide from BookSneeze and Thomas Nelson for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Compass Study Bible for Navigating Your Life

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Compass- The Study Bible for Navigating Your Life, Leathersoft, peacock blue  -

Compass
The Study Bible
for Navigating Your Life
 
The Voice Translation:
Step into the Story of Scripture
 
Thomas Nelson Publisher
 
ISBN: 978-1-4016-7911-8 (Hardcover)
 
Available February 2014




The concept in the Compass Study Bible (Thomas Nelson), is one that originated from readers. Through a series of focus groups and research, a need was discovered and reiterated by consumers for a new type of Bible that helped them find answers but didn’t tell them what to do or how to live their lives.

Written in The Voice translation, Compass Study Bible aims to provide a non-threatening package of God’s Word that becomes a companion to the work-a-day person. Compass is meant to help readers become more in step with a biblical worldview by providing points of connection between issues of everyday living and the biblical narrative.  ~  Publisher description


Features include:
  • In-text commentary notes that include cultural, historical, theological, and devotional thoughts
  • God's Promises - Thomas Nelson's bestselling guide to Scripture for your every need
  • Book introductions
  • Reading plans
  • Topical Guides to Scripture and notes
  • In-text maps
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

For those not familiar with this translation, "The Voice is a dynamic equivalent translation that reads like a story with all of the truth and wisdom of God's Word. Through compelling narratives, poetry, and teaching it invites readers to enter into the whole story of God with their heart, soul, and mind. This bold new translation engages readers like no other Bible" (www.hearthevoice.com).

Jeremiah 29.11

The Voice:

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Eternal, “plans for peace, not evil, to give you a future and hope—never forget that."

 
NIV:
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
 
The Compass Study Bible is written in an easy to follow style, much like a script of a play; the reader always knows who is speaking.  The in-text commentary notes helps to clear up any confusion in the section helping the reader understand God's Word in their heart and the ability to apply it to their lives.  The only concern I have is that, to the beginner Bible reader, the in-text commentaries may be mistaken as God's Word.
 
Overall, I enjoy the easy-to-follow text and additional information of the Compass Study Bible.
 
I received a complimentary copy of the Compass Study Bible for my honest review from Thomas Nelson Publisher and Shelton Interactive.
 
Blessings,
 
     Ellen


 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Burning Sky... a book review

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Burning Sky
 
 
 
Available: August 2013
 
ISBN: 978-0-307-73147-0
 
Historical Fiction / Christian



Set in the late 1700s, the settlements of New York are battling Indian raids and turmoil as part of the American Revolution.  At the age of 14, Wilhelmina was abducted by the Indians and was adopted by an Indian mother and renamed Burning Sky. In time, she embraced the life of the people; marrying a warrior and having two daughters.  After the deaths of her husband and children and the relocation of the Indian tribe, she decides to return to her true family.  When she returns to the family homestead, she is met with more questions than answers, and no parents to welcome her home.  Although she is a white woman, the townspeople do not embrace her return.  Caught between two worlds, Wilhelmina does not know where she truly fits in.  As she fights to keep her family's land, will she be able to open her heart to love again?

Burning Sky is a wonderful book of loss and redeeming love.  Set in a time period when turmoil was everywhere, Lori Benton has written a story that many freed white captives had faced when returning home.  Were they Indian? White? Both?  The story of Burning Sky came to end too quickly.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
 
A

I received a complimentary copy of Burning Sky from WaterBrook Press for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mexican-style Hamburger Helper... the homemade version

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When money is tight, we go straight to the pantry to see what we can pull together for dinner.  This particular night, I found the fixings for a homemade Mexican-style Hamburger Helper.

Ingredients:

1 box (16 oz) large sea shell pasta
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
2 TBS Taco Seasoning
1 large can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 large can (28 oz.) whole, peeled tomatoes in juice blended with an immersion blender or a regular   blender
Shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese, optional


Directions:

1.  Cook pasta according to directions on box.

2.  Brown ground beef, pepper, and onion in fry pan.

3.  After beef is cooked, drain fat from the pan.

4.  Add the taco seasonings, diced tomatoes, and blended whole, peeled tomatoes.

5.  Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes to combine flavors.

6.  Combine with the cooked, drained pasta.

7.  Serve with shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese.

8.  Enjoy!


Blessings,

    Ellen

P.S. - Please excuse my.... ummm.... errrr.... simplistic photo.  My family agreed this recipe was a keeper after we had begun clean-up!  I will update with a more pleasant photo next time we make this tasty dish!

The Secret Keeper... a book review

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The Secret Keeper, Home to Hickory Hollow Series #4   -     
        By: Beverly Lewis

The Secret Keeper
 
Home to Hickory Hollow Series #4
 
Bethany House Publisher
 
ISBN: 9780764209802
 
Contemporary Amish Fiction
 
 


Jenny Burns seemingly has a wonderful life.  Born into a wealthy family in Hartford, Connecticut, she never truly feels part of the family or lifestyle.  Desiring to surround herself with items from a foregone era, she finds contentment working in an antique store as an appraiser since graduating from college.  After befriending Marnie in Hickory Hollow two years ago, she has kept in contact with her new Amish friend.  Marnie has everything she desires, a simple life away from all the modern trappings of the 21st century.
 
Can Jenny leave the family she was born into and embrace a family of faith which her soul yearns for?

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

I always enjoy Beverly Lewis' stories of faith and family in the Amish community.  She has such insight into their customs and lives that she transports each reader into their midst, if only for a short time.
 
Reading Jenny's desire for a more simple life rings home to me, and most likely many other overworked, stressed out women in our modern society.  I would love to be able to center my life around God and my family without worrying about outside influences, work, stock market crashes, and more.

 My rating: 5 our of 5 stars
 
A

I received a complimentary copy of The Secret Keeper from Bethany House for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wisdom for Everyday Living... a book review

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Wisdom for Everyday Living  -     
        By: Steve Woods

Wisdom for Everyday Living
 
by Steve M. Woods
 
Available: October 1, 2013
 
Publisher: HCI Books
 
ISBN: 9780757317545
 
 
a simple way to reconnect with God


  



"A powerful collection of thoughtful, faith-filled devotions from some of the most inspired Christian hearts and minds."  ~ Publisher's description

This daily devotion book touches on the many stressful situations that life throws at us.  Wouldn't you like to find peace in circumstances beyond your control like enduring hard times, dealing with depression and addictions?  I know I do!

Each day take just a few minutes to focus on God's Word and His truths.  Let them soak into your spirit and bring peace to your soul.  For many of us, we are so busy that we let time with God suffer.  Wisdom for Everyday Living is a simple solution to returning to your quiet time with the Lord.

I received a complimentary e-copy of Wisdom for Everyday Living from HCI Books and NetGalley for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Christmas at Cardwell Ranch... a book review

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Christmas at Cardwell Ranch
 
 
Harlequin Intrigue
 
Available: October 29, 2013
 
ISBN: 978-0-373-69722-9
 
 

An enjoyable, feel-good read
 
 
 
 
 
                        AT CARDWELL RANCH, THE HOLIDAYS CAN BE BRUTAL…

It had been years since Tanner "Tag" Cardwell's boots touched Montana soil. This Christmas he was determined to change that. Until a run-in with local Lily McCabe revealed dark secrets from his past and deep trouble for his future.

Cowboys came and went in these parts. But Tag Cardwell caught Lily off guard in more ways than one when the two became entwined in a murder mystery. What was it about Tag?  The dreamy eyes… The rugged physique… The protection she felt in his strong arms…

But before they could lose themselves in each other they had to trace a killer. Or risk finding a crime scene under the Christmas tree.   ~ Publisher's Description
 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
At a young age, Tag's mother moved him and his sibling to Texas.  Even as an adult, he has no lasting good memories of his father.  He decides to travel to Montana to spend Christmas with his dad and uncle.  But, what starts as a holiday, ends in mystery and murder.  Who is his dad?  Is he involved in this horrible mystery?  Should Tag cover for his dad or turn him in? 
 
I enjoyed the twists and turn of the plot and the characters.  Although numerous people are introduced, B.J. Daniels does a wonderful job in keeping everyone straight!  I love that!  Add in a well-written romance and love story and you have a winner! 
 
My rating:
4 out of 5 stars
B
 
I received a complimentary e-copy of Christmas at Cardwell Ranch from Harlequin Intrigue and NetGalley for my honest review.
 
Blessings,
 
     Ellen

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Highlander's Dangerous Temptation... a book review

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The Maclerie Clan Series
Romance / Mature
Available October 2013
ISBN: 9780373297627


Cursed by past tragedies, notorious Highlander Laird Athdar MacCallum has devoted himself to leading his people — and has vowed never to marry again.  Until he is utterly disarmed by the innocent beauty in the eyes of Isobel Ruriksdottir…

Isobel is drawn to the vulnerability she senses behind the fearsome fa├žade of the clan chief. But with his formidable reputation, he is strictly forbidden.  Being together can only lead them into danger, yet the temptation to risk all for their perilous passion is impossible to ignore.  ~ Publisher's Description

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Step into the rich history of keeps and clans of Northern Scotland in 1375.  Where marriages are arranged and villagers work together for the betterment of all.  Life was hard; people died.  But, for Athdar, it was those closest to him... his wives and newborn child.  Swearing off any further marriage, he falls for the innocent and beautiful Isobel.  Can an innocent young woman change his heart and his hearth?
 
I enjoyed reading about this time period.  The fact that a passionate romance ensued made for a nice read!
 
My rating: 
 
3.75 out of 5 stars
 
B

I received a complimentary e-copy of The Highlander's Dangerous Temptation from Harlequin Historical and NetGalley for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Weaver Beginning... a book review

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A Weaver Beginning
 
Available: September 17, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-373-65770-4
Genre: Romance, Mature

 

Small town deputy Sloan McCray was making amends for his past. They called him a hero but only he had to live with the difficult choices he'd made. And he certainly wasn't prepared to fall in love again, not even with his beautiful—and innocent—new neighbor, whose very presence was a balm to his troubled soul.

 
There was no doubt in Abby Marcum's mind that Sloan was the guy for her. Though she'd moved to Weaver, Wyoming, to make a better life for her little brother, she saw her future with Sloan. Now she had to convince the man who felt unworthy of love that she and her heart were his for the asking…. 
 
~ Publisher's Description
 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
I enjoy a good romance, and Allison Leigh's A Weaver Beginning did not disappoint!  She weaves a beautiful story of every day happenings and brings joy to the reader.  How many grandparents, siblings, and others are raising children not their own.  Yet, in the midst of all the decisions and living, love can be found.  The question to ask is, "Can it be won?"  We all make decisions in our lives that we wish we could change.  But, it is those decisions that make us the people we are today.  A Weaver Beginning embraces the characters' past and looks forward to a bright future, if only the choice is made....
 
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
B+
 
I received a complimentary e-copy of A Weaver Beginning from Harlequin and NetGalley for my honest review.
 
Blessings,
 
     Ellen

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Untraceable... a book review

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Untraceable
 
Series: The Nature of Grace #1
 
by S.R. Johannes
 
Mystery / Thriller / Teens / Young Adults
 
Publisher: Coleman & Stott
 
November 2011
 
ISBN: 9780984799121




"Grace has lived in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he's dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father."  ~ Publisher's Description
 
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

When I first read about this book, I loved the idea of a strong, teenage girl heroine.  What I didn't expect was the wonderfully written twists and turns in the plot.  From the opening scene to the closing page, Grace does not allow those around her to dictate her thoughts and feelings. 
 
She believes her father is still alive and acts on those gut feelings.  As she searches the forest for clues to her dad, she crosses the paths of some underhanded creatures... humans included!  Can she solve the mystery of her dad's disappearance in time to save herself?  Or is she destined to follow the fate of her dad?
 
S.R. Johannes hooked me from page 1!  The details of the forest floor and animals were beautifully written and pulled me into the story.  Grace became a literary friend; I found myself cheering her on and hoping, against all odds, she would win out in the end.  When I finished the book, I clicked on over to Amazon and found the second book in the series, Uncontrollable.  With a click of the mouse, I now own the second book and can't wait to hang out longer with Grace!
 
My rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars
A

Right now, Barnes and Noble and Amazon are currently selling
the e-book version of Untraceable for $0.99! 

What are you waiting for.... go get your next read!
 
 
Untraceable by S.R. Johannes was the Winner of 2012 IndieReader Discovery Awards (YA) and the
Silver Medalist, IPPY Awards - Best YA.

 I received a complimentary e-copy of Untraceable from NetGalley for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Free e-book: Elisha's Bones by Don Hoesel

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Elisha's Bones (A Jack Hawthorne Adventure Book #1)


After reviewing the third book in this series - Blood and Bone, I found that you can download a FREE copy of the first book, Elisha's Bones from Barnes and Noble.  Click on the picture to be taken directly to the website!
 
See my review of all three books in the series HERE.
 
Hurry, this may not last long!  What have you got to lose?

Blessings,
 
     Ellen

Blood and Bone... a book review

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Blood and Bone  -     
        By: Don Hoesel
    
Blood and Bone
 
A Jack Hawthorne Adventure Series #3
Christian / mystery / adventure / suspense/ archeology
 
by Don Hoesel
 

When I first requested this book, the main character sounded familiar.  What I found in my pre-reading research was that I had the first novel in the series, Elisha's Bones, on my personal bookshelf to be read.  So, before I even cracked open the spine of Blood and Bone, I read Elisha's Bones( #1) and Serpent of Moses (#2) in the series.


Elisha's BonesAlthough you do not have to begin with the first book in the series, I believe it did help me to get a feel for the characters and their personalities. Jack Hawthorne, an archeologist turned college professor, is lured back into the field in Elisha's Bones by a millionaire seeking the healing powers rumored to be in this prophet's bones.  But, the bones have been, and still are, protected by a secret society spanning 3,000 years. With the help of his former girlfriend Esperanza and her brother, Jack must not only locate the bones, but stay one step ahead of those who will kill to protect them.  From a sleepy town in North Carolina, the duo hop from continent to continent seeking these biblical relics.

2 Kings 13.20-21: "20 Elisha died and was buried.  Now Moabite raiders used to enter the country every spring. 21 Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb. When the body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet."


Serpent of Moses  -     
        By: Don Hoesel
    
Jack's archeological adventures continue in Serpent of Moses (#2).  Within 3 years of locating Elisha's bones, Jack has returned to archeology full-time.  While his absences from Espy are expected, this one is different.  Esperanza receives a odd call regarding Jack from an antiquities dealer with troubling news.  After she follows Jack oversees, she soon realizes that he may be in trouble.  Espy and her brother begin to follow the clues that Jack had previously.  He not only has one entity after him but three: the Libyan government, the Vatican, and an Egyptians assassin.  Once again, the search for a biblical relic has brought another life or death possibility to Jack and those he cares about.

Numbers 21:8-10: "The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived."



Cover ArtFinally, in Blood and Bones, Jack and Espy marry and settle down with their two sons into a college professor's quiet life... or so they thought.  Now, 10 years after the Serpent of Moses had been found, he receives an emergency call to flee his home and find sanctuary elsewhere.  With the help of a co-professor and ex-CIA agent Ducky, Jack disappears into the night with his family.  Yet, while they follow Ducky's lead, the boys are kidnapped and the only possibility of their safe return hinges on relocating Elisha's Bones to trade for their own.  Once again, we join Jack and Espy on a globe trotting adventure.



I thoroughly enjoyed all three books by Don Hoesel!  Today, on Barnes and Noble, you can download Elisha's Bones for free!  How's that for a preview of this terrific series!  I don't know how long this will last.  So, what are you waiting for?

My rating: A+
6 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of Blood and Bone from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.  I bought Elisha's Bones and Serpent of Moses for the pure enjoyment of a great story!

Blessings,

     Ellen

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Brotherhood Conspiracy... a book review

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The Brotherhood Conspiracy
 
by Terry Brennan
 
ISBN: 978-0-8254-4317-6
 

Fiction / Christian / Suspense
 
2013
 
 
 
Tom Bohannon's discovery of an ancient scroll led him on an international adventure and through mysteries of faith and politics, ending in a place not even he could imagine: the Third Temple of God hidden under Temple Mount in Jerusalem. But soon after his remarkable discovery, the future of the world changed again. Tom watched as a chasm tore apart Temple Mount, as new rivers swept through the Kidron Valley and into the streets of Old Jerusalem, their discovery swallowed by an earthquake, crushed under tons of stone and debris. A biblical prophecy realized. The final days were upon them.
 
Wondering how to recover from such a momentous find and such horrendous destruction, Tom's adventures are not over. No one knows how much time is left in these last days--a year? A hundred years? A thousand? Plagued by murderous dreams, Tom fears members of the Prophet Guard--killers who wear the Coptic cross with a lightning bolt slashing through it--are back and looking for him. But they are not the only threat to Tom and his team. Forces behind the Arab Spring have sinister plans. And underestimating their determination would be a fatal mistake.

The same fast-paced, page-turning prose that readers loved in The Sacred Cipher is back in Terry Brennan's eagerly awaited sequel, The Brotherhood Conspiracy. ~  Publisher's Description

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
 
Intrigue
 
Mystery
 
Suspense
 
Biblical prophesies coming true....

How do regular people seamlessly blend in with secret agents and societies wanting them dead?  By trusting that the True God has called them and will direct their footsteps to accomplish His plan.
 
From the streets of New York City to Jerusalem, this action-packed mystery is truly a global read.  As the characters follow the clues presented and garnered, the readers are drawn into the unfolding pages of the Biblical last days.
 
I always get concerned when the opening pages of a new book includes a descriptive list of the main characters in the novel.  True to other books, I found myself having to flip back to confirm who is who in the story and their locales.  Numerous times I had to reread sections to clarify the who and where. 
 
Although this was tedious at times, I enjoyed The Brotherhood ConspiracyTerry Brennan has created a riveting, thought provoking story.  Weaving biblical history with the unrest in the Middle East and Jerusalem, this story could easily be a 'front-page news' current event.
 
The Brotherhood Conspiracy continues a storyline which began in  The Sacred Cipher but you do not need to begin with book 1.  Yet, it probably would have helped me to understand the characters and each of their parts in the unfolding drama more clearly.  I had placed Terry Brennan's The Sacred Cipher on my wish list to read even before picking up The Brotherhood Conspiracy.  I look forward to reading the beginning of this series!
 
My rating: A-
 
4.5 out of 5 stars
 
I received a complimentary copy of The Brotherhood Conspiracy from Kregel Publications for my honest review.
 
Blessings,
 
     Ellen

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Boundaries for Leaders... a book review

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ISBN: 978-0-06-220633-6
$28.99 Hardback
April 2013


Book Description


An expert on the psychology of business and a co-author of the classic bestseller Boundaries explains how the best leaders set expectations and limits to get the results they want from their employees and from themselves.

In Boundaries for Leaders, Dr. Henry Cloud combines his knowledge of human behavior, business leadership, and neuroscience to help executives lead effectively, build organizational culture, develop strong teams, and get results from themselves and others.

What is a boundary? Simply put, a boundary is a property line that defines ownership, control, and responsibility. It sets limits on the behaviors and activities allowed on the property. Similarly, leadership success depends on shaping and defining organizational boundaries. When leaders set appropriate and healthy expectations that are in line with the ways people actually behave, organizations and their employees thrive. Beginning with a lucid description of how brains actually work, Dr. Cloud then applies those principles to the most critical aspects of a leader's work: how to manage teams, coach direct reports, and instill an organization with strong values and culture.

Filled with inspiring and practical examples, Boundaries for Leaders is essential reading for executives and those who aspire to lead-professionals who want to create successful companies, with more satisfied employees and customers, while becoming more resilient managers themselves. Its practical advice brings clarity and direction, helping leaders cut through the chaos and confusion, resulting in organizations that are positive and results-oriented. In short, it defines the essential boundaries that leaders must provide for their vision to become reality.  (BookSneeze.com)
 
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As I complete my Business Management degree, I was looking forward to reading this book.  I want to be an effective leader who can encourage and motivate my employees and / or team members. 

I found Boundaries for Leaders to be long-winded and redundant.  I wanted to learn hands-on ways to become a better leader, but this is not what I found.  Instead of quickly consuming the book and its ideas, I trudged through hoping for better with each turn of a page.  Dr. Henry Cloud introduces a topic and then writes that he will delve into that later in the book.  Because of this, the book did not flow smoothly at all.

The basic tenets of trust, a positive emotional climate and culture were mere background information to Dr. Cloud's constant description of how your brain works.  I would have preferred these flipped - more information and ways to improve or maintain a positive working environment and less "brain talk."   

My rating: C
2.5 out of 5 stars

I received a complimentary copy of Boundaries for Leaders from BookSneeze.com for my honest review.

Blessings,

     Ellen

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pork Stir-Fry... the easy way!

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I love a good stir-fry.  What will make a better?  Keep it simple and quick!

I first made this a month ago and, for once, actually wrote down my ingredients.  This alone is an amazing feat!  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does.

Ingredients:

2 boneless pork chops
Garlic powder
Ground ginger
1 egg
3/4 cup Kraft Toasted Asian Sesame Dressing
4 TBS Soy Sauce
1 TBS Brown Sugar
1 bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
Instant Rice



Directions:

NOTE: The meat will cook quickly. 
Have your water boiling to cook the vegetables at the same time.
Don't forget about your rice!

1.  Spray fry pan with Pam.

2.  Cut pork into bite-sized pieces and place in frying pan in a single layer.

3.  Season the pork with garlic powder and ground ginger.


4.  Cook the pork on medium high (300 F in an electric fry pan).

5.  Once meat is cooked through, move it to one side of the pan.

6.  Add the scrambled egg to the open area and cook.  Once the egg is cooked, mix it with the pork.


7.  Add the Toasted Asian Sesame Dressing, soy sauce, and brown sugar to the meat/egg mixture.


8.  While the meat is cooking, bring water in pot to a boil.  Add frozen vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.  Drain.



9.  Combine meat mixture with vegetables.


10.  Serve over cooked rice.

11.  Enjoy!

*Note:  I doubled the recipe for a family of 5 (2 adults and 3 teenagers).  Play with different vegetable combinations!  The first time I made this I added fresh snow peas to the fry pan and cooked them with the meat.  Fresh vegetables work great, too!  Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots can be cooked in boiling water for 5 minutes just like frozen veggies.  If you use fresh onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and/or cabbage, stir fry the vegetables in a fry pan with Pam or olive oil before adding to the meat mixture.

I'd love to hear how your dinner turned out?  Any changes or additions that worked better?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Recipe from: Cook's Family Recipes

May be linked to these wonderful blog hops!

Blessings,

     Chef Ellen

Monday, June 24, 2013

Twisted... a book review

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Twisted
Book 2 in the Torn Series
 
by K.A. Robinson
 
E-book ISBN: 978-1-4767-5217-4
Book ISBN: 978-1-4767-5216-7
 
E-book available now; Paperback in Sept. 2013
 
Atria Books Publishing
 
Sold by Simon and Schuster
 
Contemporary Fiction / Mature
 
 

 Love has the power to break through even the most twisted of circumstances.
 
In the second book in the bestselling Torn series by K.A. Robinson, Chloe and Drake have soldiered through a heartbreaking love triangle and are finally within reach of their happily ever after. Unfortunately, their demons have come out of the dark with a vengeance, looking to destroy them. Chloe’s abusive mother enters back into her life with an evil plot that sets off a chain of events no one could ever have anticipated. To add to their distress, a relentless, conniving ex reappears determined to tear the couple apart through any means necessary. The extra strain pushes Chloe and Drake to the brink, bringing out their greatest weaknesses and putting them up against old but powerful addictions.

The foundation on which their love was built is crumbling beneath them. What are they willing to give up in order to stay together?   ~  Publisher's Description
 
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Drake and Chloe's love story is far from unique.  In her attempt to stretch their romance, K.A. Robinson dragged out the inevitable.  If the book focused more on the drama of Chloe's mom or the impending stardom, then I would have truly enjoyed it.  As it is, I pushed through the book but will not read any other books in this series. 
 
To read my review of Torn #1, click HERE.
 
My rating: D
1.5 stars out of 5
 
I received a complimentary e-book of Twisted from Atria Books, Simon and Schuster, and NetGalley for my honest review.
 
Blessings,
 
     Ellen
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