Friday, June 29, 2012

Amy Clipston's A Season of Love ~ Reviewed

A Season of Love (Kauffman Amish Bakery Series)
Amy Clipston
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (June 19, 2012)
Language: English
In the fifth and final novel of the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series, three young women are about to change their lives. Lizzie Anne and Samuel have decided to get married, and Lindsay is about to be baptized in the Amish faith and is courting Matthew. While Katie Kauffman is happy for her friends who seem to have settled their futures, she is also finding herself something of a fifth wheel. 
When Lindsay's sister Jessica returns to Bird-in-Hand, she finds that Jake Miller has moved on with his life. He lost hope that Jessica would ever be satisfied to settle in rural Pennsylvania and takes comfort in becoming close friends with Katie. However, it's not an easy road as Jake is Mennonite and Katie has just been baptized in the Amish faith. Her father forbids them to see each other, adamant that his daughter marry an Amish man. 
A Season of Love is filled with surprising twists that will grip you to the very last words. As the stories of your favorite Amish community draw to a close, join Lindsay, her friends, and all the people of Bird-In-Hand for one last volume.


A Season of Love is book 5 in the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series.  In this book, the characters that have developed throughout the series come into their own.  Two of the girls, Lizzie Anne and Lindsay, have become engaged.  But Katie Kauffman, while happy for her friends, is beginning to feel sorry for herself.  She is ready to find love as well.  But love comes unexpectedly in the form of Jake Miller, a young Mennonite man whose Amish relatives have close ties with Katie’s family.  Their feelings for each other grow, but Katie’s father forbids them to see each other, which makes matters worse.  Katie has to try to deal with the fact that the man she loves is someone she can never be with, and she’s not sure how to cope.                 

It took me a little while to get into the story, simply because I hadn’t read the other books, but after I got into it, I enjoyed it.  I can relate to Katie’s character in that I was one of the last of my friends to meet a guy and fall in love.  It’s hard to watch that happen.  While you’re happy for your friends, you wish for the same happiness.  I really enjoyed this book, though, and wish I could have read the others in the series.  I especially liked that the author included recipes before some of the chapters.  That was a huge plus!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Deb Roussou's 350 Best Vegan Recipes and a Giveaway ~ Reviewed

350 Best Vegan Recipes
Deb Roussou
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Robert Rose (March 8, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0778802949


Delicious, innovative and easy-to-prepare recipes for everyone in search of meal-planning options to fit the vegan lifestyle.

These tempting vegan options include a wide and varied range of tantalizing meal ideas -- from amazing appetizers and salads to hearty soups, incredibly satisfying main courses and decadent desserts. This outstanding cookbook contains so much more than just incredible vegan offerings (that are also guaranteed to appeal to non-vegans and non-vegetarians) -- it also includes comprehensive and useful information on everything from stocking a vegan pantry to helpful kitchen tools and equipment.

And what really sets this book apart from other vegan cookbooks is the "Vegan from Scratch" chapter which provides information on making everything from Vegan Bouillon to Soy Cream Cheese and Smokey Maple Tofu Bacon Slices. These recipes really bring a wholly authentic vegan lifestyle into the home kitchen!

My Review

If you are new to Vegan eating, investigating it, or are trying to add delicious meatless meals to your life, this packed-with-recipes cookbook is a great resource to have on hand.

I'd love to tell you that I cook from my brain and pure creativity and never need cookbooks to get the juices flowing, but that would be a lie. Not saying I can't get on a roll and go all out. But when I'm tired, or bored, or just can't muster creative, I like me a good cookbook.

I also would love to tell you that I love internet recipes. Honestly, with a few strokes of a few keys one can really find a whole lot of what they need on the web. But, I hate cooking from recipes on my computer. There is something about a book that I can write down tweaks or suggestions for next time in the margins. I even like an occasional splatter mark in my cookbooks. (Not to be confused with spatter for those like me, who love police fiction. I do not want spatter in my cookbooks, thankyouverymuch.)

I have made a handful of recipes from 350 Best Vegan Recipes. Each of them was delicious.

My first recipe was Serrano and Roasted Pepper Cornbread. Yum. I had some leftover Spanish rice that needed a little something to make it star in another meal. With a handful of seitan bits and the cornbread layered over the top and baked with the cornbread instructions, yum, this bad boy is a keeper.

Next up was Almond Bear Claw Muffins served to breakfast guests.  Absolutely delicious. I used almond butter instead of the paste that is called for and the recipe worked well. And won raves. 

Another muffin recipe was equally delicious. Raspberry Streusel Muffins.

The Cremini and Kalamata Olivada -- YUM.

I don't think I can tell you what i still want to make from this cookbook. It would probably take less time and space to tell you what doesn't appeal to me.

Recipes on my radar include:

Trendy and creative sounding Horseradish Mustard and Panko-Encrusted Tofu and Northwest Passage Cedar-Planked Tofu. Down home fun comfort food... County Fair Corn Chip Pie. With recipes like these book covers most aspects of Vegan entertaining.

Raw and just veggie lovers will find a section that contains recipes like: Cauliflower and Zucchini Slaw, Hearts of Palm and Mushroom Salad with Lemon Parsley Vinaigrette, Grilled Artichokes with Jalapeno Mignonette Sauce, Sauteed Slivered Brussels Sprouts Over Wild Rice Cakes and Lemon Cucumber Tabbouleh. All together now, "Yum." 

The dessert section offers up a Cranberry Walnut Cake with Caramel Sauce, Jade Green Tea Pound Cake and Figgy Pudding with Brandy Hard Sauce.

A dozen or so pages contain cocktail recipes, too.

I also appreciated the resources. Like the salad dressing recipes, spice blends and basic Vegan recipe versions to replace expensive Vegan processed items. You can use this resource to make your own dairy free versions of mayonnaise, ricotta, smear, sour cream, tempehacon bits, caramel and divine chocolate sauces, vegetable broth and seitan.

Not every recipe in the book is unique, there are several basics or standard items you'll find in nearly every Vegan focused cookbook.  The recipes I tried are delicious and easy to follow.  If you are looking for why to go Vegan, or what one is, that information in not in here. However there are some resources for new Vegans like a very simple pantry list, useful kitchen tools, vocabulary, and suggested menu/party list. Most recipes can be made with commonly found-in-Vegan-household ingredients. If you are looking for some tasty Vegan recipes and like the idea that you can buy a book with 350 recipes instead of 175, then you might want to look a little bit closer at adding it to your bookshelf. It's a keeper and I will continue to cook from it.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

NOTE: Visit my blog for a chance to win a copy of 350 Best Vegan Recipes through July 21st and follow the directions. This offer is available through the publisher and available to residents of the US and Canada.  There is also a recipe from the cookbook.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mary Ellis's Living in Harmony ~ Reviewed

Living in Harmony, New Beginnings Series #1
By: Mary Ellis  

Harvest House Publishers
2012 / Paperback
ISBN: 0736938664

Product Description: 

Amy King-young, engaged, and Amish-faces difficult challenges in her life when she suddenly loses both of her parents in a house fire. Her fianci, John Detweiler, persuades her and her sister Nora to leave Lancaster County and make a new beginning with him in Harmony, Maine, where he has relatives who can help the women in their time of need.


Living in Harmony is about a young Amish Family whose world is turned upside down when their parents die tragically in a house fire.  Amy King, the eldest, goes with her intended, John Detweiler, to stay with his family in Maine, along with her sister, Nora.  While there, Amy and Nora discover a connection with an aunt who was shunned, and want to get in touch with her.  However, this Amish district is much more strict about everything than their previous home, and these restrictions, along with John’s reservations about Amy meeting her aunt, cause Amy to wonder if this is where she really belongs.  Can she succumb herself to the will of a husband?
I enjoyed this story, especially the character of Nora.  She’s had some tough circumstances in her life and is trying to figure out what to do with her life.  But she has spunk.  This story ends with a good ending for Amy and John, but leaves you hanging in regards to Nora.  I’m looking forward to seeing what life holds for her in the next book.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Lorna Seilstad's The Ride of Her Life ~ Reviewed

By Lorna Seilstad
Published by Revell
381 Pages

Back Cover: 

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six year old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws' home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger--who designs roller coasters, of all things--intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.

Filled with delightful characters and the romance of summer,
The Ride of Her Life is another supremely entertaining story from the witty Lorna Seilstad. Readers will laugh out loud and sigh contentedly as they spend the summer of 1906 in Lake Manawa.


Love the book covers of Lorna Seilstad’s books.  The covers scream Fun! I was thrilled to receive a review copy of The Ride of Her Life and take a journey with this author through history that’s enjoyable and faith based. I adored it! I love how this author blends history, romance and faith into an entertaining story along endearing characters I instantly cared about, and her sense of well timed humor makes a great combination that will bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.

I felt for Mrs. Lilly Hart and her delightful 10 year old son Levi right from the beginning.  It’s been three years since Lilly lost her husband and Levi his dad and Lilly had to take a stand against her in-laws who wanted to send her son away to boarding school to have a proper up-bringing. Lilly moves out of her in-laws house to embark on a new journey to keep her son by her side and work hard as a cook at a restaurant. Levi is all boy filled with wonder and surprise at the world and critters around him. He says to his mom, “Look Mama.”
“What had Levi dragged in now…Lilly thought?”
“Isn’t she pretty?”… You wanna pet her?”

Lilly doesn’t over react at the monstrous, writhing snake Levi just stuck very close to her nose. She simply tells her son snakes have to live outside and can’t dine in the restaurant.  Nick who eats at the dinner along with his crew says he’ll help Levi make a cage for his new friend to live in.  Levi is thrilled, Lilly is grateful and Nick loves Lilly’s cooking! It’s a win, win for all.

In the process of helping Levi, Nick and Lilly get to know each other and try to fight the feelings that are developing between them. Nick is on a deadline to finish a roller coaster in time for the grand opening of the new theme park in town. Strange things have been happening to delay his progress. He’ll get to the bottom of that and do what it takes to be done on time.

Spiritual themes of faith, fear and trust run throughout the story and deal with a couple of characters. Lilly prays quietly to herself one day after God reveals something to her heart, “Lord, I see what I’ve been doing. When the storms came, I had the same choice the Apostles had….I could’ve responded with fear or faith. And I chose fear. I stopped trusting you and started trusting only myself! Please Lord, Please forgive me.”

I don’t know about you but I’ve prayed that prayer too! I love how this author naturally weaves in the spiritual thread and doesn’t make this story preachy.

Levi will steal your heart and the budding romance between Lilly and Nick takes so many twists and turns it will keep you guessing with it’s ups and downs just like the roller coaster ride Nick is building.

Thanks to Lorna’s author notes and Nick’s construction of his roller coaster in this story I learned so much. I enjoyed reading about the development of Amusement parks and all that goes into making that and a roller coaster. I highly recommend this novel (and Lorna’s other books) for a great summer read and your next book club pick.

Reviewed by: Nora St Laurent
The Book Club Network 

Bonus Review:

Looking for a joyful, entertaining read with characters easy to adore? Look no further than Lorna Seilstad’s third Lake Manawa novel, The Ride of Her Life.  Instilled with humour, interesting characters and unique historical details of the beginning of the roller coaster craze, this book is quite delightful.  Lorna takes her place alongside Karen Witemeyer and Deeanne Gist as a talented writer who adds frivolity and wit to her historical romantic tales.  That said, Lilly’s struggle to maintain her independence and provide for her little Levi, and her faith journey add all the substance this story needs.  With a charming leading man in Nick, Lorna has produced another lighthearted gem which is engaging and sweet and provides a satisfying end to her series.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Nicole Unice's She's Got Issues ~ Reviewed

By Nicole Unice
Published by Tyndale
252 Pages

Back Cover: 

We've all got our issues! Maybe you feel like life just isn't going your way, or you’re afraid that you don’t measure up to other people’s expectations. Perhaps you have a hard time managing your temper or have someone in your life you just can’t forgive. We deal with our “issues” every day in one form or another; the problem is, after a while, they start to feel . . . normal. Unchanging. Just part of who we are. And we forget that we have access to the power of Christ—a power that can transform our everyday weaknesses into our greatest strengths and gifts.

In She’s Got Issues, Christian counselor, ministry leader, and regular mom Nicole Unice explores the ordinary issues that are keeping you from the full and free life you were meant to have. Applying years of counseling with practical scriptural teaching and a fresh and authentic voice, Nicole shows you how to let God freely shape your character—and transform your life from ordinary to abundant.


Love the cover, enjoyed and appreciated the author’s transparency and humor. I’m thankful for the review copy I received of this book and how Nicole Unice talks about topics that have been rolling around in my mind for a while now but haven’t expressed. I love when the Lord brings a book into my life I could really benefit from; She's Got Issues is one of them.

Under the heading, “Do You Have Issues?” the author discusses how people assume when we accept Jesus into our heart we live happily ever after. How can that be when we live in a fallen world and further more we’re human and all have issues. Some of us are willing to admit them and others are clueless. Nicole Unice goes on to say, “The ability to see yourself clearly is crucial in your relationship with Christ and in your subsequent ability to serve well. You can not live more abundantly and love better without addressing the underlying issues. You are not after perfection in the way you love but you do need to cultivate a growing dependency on a relationship with Christ that gives you the ability to love.”

The author then asks, “Am I changed because of Jesus?”

This glimpse into the book shows you her sense of humor and transparency. (It was refreshing to read). She says, “First I told myself I was qualified to decide if I was changed: I’m a counselor, for heaven’s sake. I’m a supposed expert on how to be a healthy person.

Then I told myself why I was qualified to be a Christian: I rock at bible trivia games. I’m so legit. I can even pronounce a few Hebrew words, and I know the four different Greek words for love. I’ve gone to seminary!

Then I told myself the truth: I can’t really handle ordinary life with a constant peace or lasting joy. I do ok loving when it’s easy. I don’t love much when it’s hard!”

I enjoyed the author’s honesty, transparency and courage to ask the tough questions we don’t think to ask ourselves. This book makes you stop, think and ask yourself some thought provoking questions. I liked the layout and how Nicole reveals things about herself and characters from the bible. She deals with five common issues in her book: control, insecurity, comparisons, fear and anger.

The author first defines the issue and how to deal with it. Then she has a few questions you can ask yourself to assess and identify how intently you struggle with the issue being addressed.

There is a word-up section where she helps the reader focus their thoughts on scripture. She says, “God’s word has the supernatural ability to satisfy your longings in a way that no other word can.”

She goes on to say, “We don’t think about the thing that’s driving the action that’s driving us crazy.” I like how she brings up this matter and helps the reader uncover why behaviors make them crazy.

This book can be read and done individually and/or as a group study with friends. Group discussion questions are included for your group if you want to use the book that way.

The author also has a Prayer section I enjoyed: Example prayer: “God I know there is a way that seems right to me. Would you open my heart to receive your instruction in this?”

At the end of each chapter there is the Prayer, a journaling Exercise – reflections time to help you on your journey and deal with issues you may not have been aware of  and stories from the bible to reflect on as well. The author says this about what she hopes you take away from She’s God Issues, “there is great freedom in transparency. My desire is that this book will invite you into that place of honesty with yourself, others and with God.”

What a encouraging look at a topic many of us don’t want to talk about and/or either stop to think about. I enjoyed this author’s humor, transparency and how she shares about the fact none of us will be perfect this side of heaven. We’ll have issues until Jesus returns. She’s Got Issues is a book you take your time reading. You'll be comforted to know you are not alone, others have issues too, and it's a time to reflect on characters from the bible that had issues as well. None of us wants to admit we have stuff to deal with. Nicole Unice gives hope in the healing process, and help to reflect on God’s word and the issues you might be facing. It’s good for a group study with people you know. I liked how this author tells the leader how to make the study safe for sharing and growing as the groups goes from chapter to chapter. Our world is changing all the time and our issues change as we learn and grow. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Carol Cox's Love In Disguise ~ Reviewed

By Carol Cox
Published by Bethany House
350 Pages

Back Cover: 

Delightfully Engaging Blend of Romance, Suspense, History, and Humor

When costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona.

Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments--until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven's mine. In his wildest dreams, Steven never expected to be rescued by an inquisitive gray-haired widow...or to fall head over heels for Lavinia's captivating niece, Jessie.

But then the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Will she be forced to reveal her true identity before the criminals are caught? What will Steven do when he discovers the woman he loves doesn't exist?


Shakespeare said, “All the world is a stage, and all the men and women are merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts…”

These words explain the premise of this book perfectly. In enters main character Ellie Moore a starlet wannabee, who is a wardrobe, make-up and hair stylist person in the theatre for a well known actress. Ellie takes her job seriously and watches the leading ladies so she can learn to be the best when it was her turn to be on stage.

Well Ellie gets that big break but it’s not exactly the part of her dreams. Her break comes to her in the most bizarre way and she uses the world as her stage literally.  She needed a job and she would make this part work, even if it killed her. It just might!  Ellie was a gal that could think on her feet – she learned this from her years in “live” theater when the unexpected happened all the time.

I was thankful for the review copy of this book that introduced me to Carol Cox. I hadn’t read a book by her before. This book was a fun, suspenseful, mystery story I adored. It was a refreshing female lead with an interesting plot and lots of unexpected twists.

Since my husband and I were around theater for years it was interesting to read that some things never change and how things were done in the 1880’s with live theater. If your looking for a fun summer read, a historical suspense story with a little romance this is the book for you. If you are looking for your next book club pick, look no further. Love In Disguise will bring about great discussion and lots of laughs. I highly recommend this novel for a great summer read and a featured book club selection.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Bonus Review:

Carol Cox has found her niche with her latest novel, Love in Disguise, a mystery set in the Wild West with a romantic flavour. With an independent and determined heroine and a fun plot, Carol provides an entertaining and unique read that is sure to appeal to readers of Mary Connealy and Karen Witemeyer. Incorporating the early days of the Pinkerton Agency and the interesting history of the Arizona silver mines, Carol’s story provides a effortless history lesson as she draws you into Ellie’s adventure which soon takes an unexpected and dangerous turn. I enjoyed the twist of Ellie posing as two different women and the opposing reactions of the townspeople to Lavinia and Jessie. While the pacing dropped off a little for me in the middle of the book, I remained intrigued by Ellie and Steven’s journey and was keen to uncover the silver thieves and their motives. I’m looking forward to Carol’s further offerings.
Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Shelley Shepard Gray's The Search ~ Reviewed

The Search, 

Secrets of Crittenden County Series #2

By: Shelley Shepard Gray
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 272
Vendor: Avon Inspire
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 0062089722


In the midst of a murder investigation in the heart of Amish country, one young policeman finds his heart led astray. The serenity of the quiet Amish community of Marion, Kentucky, is disrupted when the body of Perry Borntrager is discovered in an abandoned well. Now the small town faces the first death by mysterious circumstances in more than twenty years, and Detective Luke Reynolds is brought in to help investigate. But before he can solve the crime, he faces unexpected feelings for Frannie, the Amish owner of the local bed-and-breakfast. Though they butt heads at first, Luke finds himself drawn to Frannie's bedside when she's injured in a kitchen accident. Soon it becomes clear that Frannie knew Perry better than she let on . . . they'd been secretly courting when he disappeared. Has Luke fallen for the very woman responsible for the crime?
The Search is book two in The Secrets of Crittenden County.  The search is still continuing in the murder investigation of Perry Borntrager.  More clues are coming out into the open.  In the meantime, we see the relationship between the Cincinnati detective, Luke Reynolds (visiting to help his friend Mose, the Sheriff) and former girlfriend and owner of the local bed and breakfast, Frannie.  We learn more about Frannie’s friend, Beth, in this story, who has to take over the inn for a few days when Frannie gets hurt in an accident.  We also get to read more about Perry’s sister, Deborah, who it seems knows more about what is going on in the  murder investigation than she has let on.
 I was very excited to get this book, but bummed that I still have to wait until book three to find out what happens!  It’s a great story, and Shelley does a great job of showing the comparison and contrast of the Amish and English lifestyles.  I really enjoyed watching the story line of Frannie and Luke evolve.  I’m looking forward to book three!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Monday, June 11, 2012

Nashville Kat's The Happy Husband Cookbook ~ Reviewed

By Nashville Kat
Illustrated by Canteen Slim
Tin Boot Publishing

A note from Kat about her book, The Happy Husband Cookbook.

"My cookbook has 204 tried and true recipes, the things we eat at our home daily. It is filled with black and white drawings my husband did. I decided to start a cookbook when I got married a little over 4 years ago. The book came from this. My husband did the art work on the front. The picture hangs on our kitchen wall and one day while having lunch together I looked at it and said, 'there's my cover.' I had the title for the book first then it all came together at lunch that day."


Since I’m a person that absolutely needs a cook book to cook, I was thrilled to receive a review copy of this new cook book by radio personality Nashville Kat. My husband is the Chef in our house, I know he’d be great on that show “Chopped” where they have a basket of 4 ingredients and you have 5 seconds to make decide on something amazing out if them in just one hour. I’m hyperventilating just thinking about being in that situation. I don’t know about you but I would need a week to look through all my cook books for ideas and forget about making anything in just one hour. I don’t know my way around the kitchen that well! Grin! I know when it’s my turn to cook I need help!

Are you like me and looking for a meal my family will love, won’t be too hard to make and won’t cost you an arm and a leg to put it on the table? Stuck in a rut of family dinner selections and looking for something new that isn’t too hard to make? Do you want to make yummy meals your whole family will love, that will also have everyone feel full and satisfied?

Well I have good news for you, The Happy Husband Cook Book will not only make your husband happy but your kids will jump for joy too!

I have a 20, 17 and 14 year olds in my house that can be so picky about what they want to eat. I was overjoyed when they didn’t roll their eyes at trying something new and then asked for seconds. Hooray!

This book is filled with over 200 recipes and can be purchased at Nashville Kat's husband Canteen Slim has illustrated this book. There are fun food facts all through the book on the bottom of the recipes. For example under her recipe for Chicken Supreme it says that this recipe is a throw back from the 60' and goes on to say, "This is a classic recipe that you can't even locate by doing a search on Google!" (How did we ever live without Google?)

Nashville Kate said this about some of her recipes, "The Hash Brown Casserole is full of cheese and sour cream and it's so yummy! The Marinated Flank Steak is work the price of the book alone. The Peanut butter Planets will melt in your mouth. I also have a great overnight Fried Chicken recipe and there's a 2 ingredient whole chicken for the crock pot - using just BBQ sauce - It just falls off the bone!"

This book is filled with yummy food treasures! The recipes have easy to find ingredients, instructions that were easy to understand and follow and meals my family loved. I was amazed when they asked for seconds on the meals I served (they couldn't ask for thirds because I didn't make a big enough batch!! Grin!) These recipes will also be a hit at church potlucks and with your friends.

I tried several recipes from the dinner, soup and dessert categories and look forward to trying the breakfast meals which include the Breakfast Casserole, Dutch Pancakes, Grandma Bert's Cinnamon Rolls, Mouth Meltin' Muffins, and many of the bread selections, such as Buckle-ip Biscuits, Butternut Squash Bread, Peanut Butter Bread, Iowa Cornbread and many more.

The book includes over 200 receipes that are broken down into Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Dressings, 14 Meatless Main Dishes, 33 Main Dishes, Vegetable Sides, and let's not forget about the Breakfast Meals and Desserts!! Out of the meals I made from this book my favorite were the Hash Brown Soup, South Dakota Beef Stew and Strawberry Pizza Pie (I know as I work my way through the recipes in this book we'll discover more family favorites)

This author packs so much fun and yummy recipes into about a 125 page book. I highly recommend this comfort food cook book where I know you'll discover some new family favorites of your own inside its pages, like we did!

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent

Bonus Review:  

Kat introduced me to a whole lot of food adventures while she worked on The Happy Husband cookbook. I had the opportunity to join delicious parties where she'd assign recipes and a dozen cooks would get together to eat, rate and suggest.

Kat was the first truly diverse foodie I had the opportunity to cook and eat with. And I had never heard of Miso or considered raw food until she shared some of her experiences with those items and those she gained enjoying food from all over the United States as well as an European adventure. She collects recipes and techniques like others might collect shot glasses or refrigerator magnets from all the special places and moments in life. 

Though this cookbook is not Vegan, and my regular readers all know that's my current recipe book collection bent, it's a keeper. Her recipes, though occasionally heavy on ingredients, are ALL heavy on love of food and folks and chock full of taste. Many of her recipes have stories and helpful hints. Kat loves taste and mouth feel and will work until it's just right, while her husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Her experiences and skills as a foodie all come together to make for some great recipes. Her midwest roots and country bent also guarantee that many of these recipes are comfort foods that will become some of your favorites. Her husband's art work adds the cherry-on-the-top charm.
Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer 

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Denise Hunter's The Accidental Bride ~ Reviewed

The Accidental Bride (A Big Sky Romance) 
Denise Hunter 
Paperback: 304 pages 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 3, 2012) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1595548025 


When a wedding reenactment turns real, Shay finds she's an accidental bride. Shay Brandenberger is raising her daughter in Moose Creek, Montana, on her childhood ranch, nestled against the Yellowstone River. Despite the hard work, she can't seem to keep her head above water-and now the bank is threatening to foreclose. She prays for a miracle, but the answer she receives is anything but expected. 

Having agreed to play the bride in the Founders' Day wedding reenactment, Shay is mortified to be greeted at the end of the aisle by none other than Travis McCoy, her high-school sweetheart-the man who left her high and dry for fame and fortune on the Texas rodeo circuit. Then the unthinkable happens. Thanks to a well-meaning busybody and an absentminded preacher, the make-believe vows result in a legal marriage. But before Shay can say annulment, Travis comes up with a crazy proposal. If she refuses his offer, she may lose her home. If she accepts, she may lose her heart. Shay isn't sure if the recent events are God's will or just a preacher's blunder. 

Will trusting her heart to the man who once shattered it be the worst mistake of her life? Or could their marriage be the best accident that ever happened? 


The Accidental Bride is about a woman named Shay Brandenburger, who is struggling to raise her daughter on her own, while trying to keep the family ranch from being taken away. In the meantime, after agreeing to play the bride in the Founder’s Day wedding reenactment, she finds herself actually being married to the man playing the groom, Travis McCoy, her former fiancĂ© who left her at the alter several years previously. Though she is still upset with him, she is hardly to turn down his offer to stay married and help her financially. Travis, however, finds this a happy mistake, and fights to win her back. 

 I LOVED this book. Such a fun setting. And it was wonderful to see how God brought these two characters back into each others lives after a horrible situation split them up. It was nice to watch Shay’s attitude and heart change towards Travis, as his actions showed he obviously loved her. She is a good example of the struggle we go through in trusting the Lord’s will in our lives, though. This was a very good book. I would highly recommend it! 

 Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Bryan Davis's Liberator ~ Reviewed

By Bryan Davis
Zondervan 2012

Review by: Michelle Griep

The Time Has Come As the long-awaited invasion of human forces looms, Jason, Koren, and Elyssa struggle to alert the soldiers to an unforeseen menace on the planet of Starlight---a deadly illness has been released, one that already has Koren in its grip. Starlighter Cassabrie harbors a secret she believes can counter the devastation being unleashed by dragon king Taushin's latest maneuverings, but she can disclose little of her risky plan. As Cassabrie fights to save her people, the dragon Magnar works to move the Starlight prophecy in his favor. His actions could release an ancient race of dragon-like beings, making the plight of humans even more perilous. Wishing only to free the slaves and to bring peace, a few young warriors are poised to face three armies as they battle for control of two worlds. Can love, faith, and courage be enough? Will Cassabrie be the human's last hope?

Coming in on the fourth book of a series is always a tough transition, but author Bryan Davis did a great job of brining a newbie like me up to speed. Right from the start, I felt connected to the characters of Jayson, Elyssa and Koren.

Dragons are everywhere. Some are more easily controlled than others. The old adage of “Never trust a dragon” certainly plays out in this adventurous tale. And worse, many dragons are downright cruel, starving and whipping children an spreading a deadly disease to the masses.

I really like how the themes of justice and mercy are touched on throughout the book, cultivating in a very satisfying ending.

If dragons and lots of action are what you’re craving for a summertime read, LIBERATOR is the book to toss in your beach bag.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Lisa Wingate's Blue Moon Bay ~ Reviewed

 Blue Moon Bay
 Lisa Wingate

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers; Original edition (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764208225

Back Cover:

Every Once in a Blue Moon Your Heart Waits at a Crossroads

For Seattle architect Heather Hampton, a trip back to tiny Moses Lake, Texas, is hardly in the plan. Yet because a promotion hinges on the sale of the family farmland, Heather heads to the last place she ever wanted to go. She's determined to return home, signed contract in hand, the next day.

But the currents of Moses Lake take visitors on unexpected journeys. As Heather's stay lengthens, she discovers a family steeped in secrets and an unexpected connection to local banker Blaine Underhill, despite his opposition to Heather's project. With each new revelation and question, Heather can't help but wonder if the handsome banker--and the family she has come to know again--are crooks or crusaders. Somehow she must find out the truth before she loses everything she has worked for and everything she's found on the shores of Moses Lake.


 Blue Moon Bay involves a woman named Heather Hampton who is working her way up in her company as an architect in Seattle.  She’s helping push the sale of family farmland in Moses, Texas, in order to help her chances of getting a promotion at her job.  When things aren’t going as planned, she has to make a sudden trip back to her old home.  She is hesitant to return, as she doesn’t want to deal with her mom, brother and the town members.  However, upon arrival, more problems come up than anticipated, forcing Heather to remain in Moses Lake to get things straightened out.
When starting this book, I really didn’t think I would like it.  It starts out in an office setting and was a bit boring and hard to follow, but after getting into the storyline, I had a hard time putting it down.  It ended up being really good, and it had some mystery and suspense in it that kept reading more to find out what happened.  It just goes to show you can’t always judge  a book by the first chapter!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Friday, June 01, 2012

Jocelyn Green's Wedded to War ~ Reviewed

By Jocelyn Green
Published by Moody Publishers
ISBN# 978-0802405760
398 Pages

Back Cover:  In Wedded to War, tending the Union army's sick and wounded would mean leaving Phineas Hastings, the man Charlotte Waverly's mother, Caroline, approved of, for an existence Caroline could not understand. To honor the father she lost to Cholera, Charlotte chose a life of service over privilege-just as her childhood friend, Caleb Lansing, had when he became a military doctor. She quickly discovers that she's combatting more than just the Rebellion by working in the hospitals. Would the two men who love her stand by and watch as she fights her own battles? Or would their desire for her wage war on her desire to serve God?

She fought to get her place, and she fought even harder to keep it.
Though Wedded to War is a work of fiction, the story is inspired by one Civil War nurse, Georgeanna Woolsey, whose letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering women nurses endured during the Civil War. This is the first novel in the series, Heroines Behind the lines: Civil War, offering an inside look at women's contributions during times of war.

Jocelyn Green teleports readers to the frontlines of the Civil War, through the eyes of medical personal trying to save lives, in her debut novel, Wedded to War.

I was instantly drawn into this fascinating story and sympathized with Charlotte, the main character and her family situation. Charlotte is a strong-willed, opinionated woman who loves God with her whole heart.  She faces opposition from her family and friends when she shares she’s call to be a nurse. She also gets some flack from medical organizations she wishes to join. No one could understand why a woman of privilege (who’s never worked a day in her life) wants to volunteer to be a nurse and go into the trenches of war. Was she mad? Did she have a death wish? Charlotte explains to a friend, “For the first time in my life, I feel as through I may actually have some value to other people. Not for what I look like but for what I do. I am part of something bigger than myself.”

After a family relative signs up to help fight the war it becomes personal. She can’t stay home; attend parties and social events anymore. The test, could she be strong enough to be true to her call, herself and God?

Remember the scene in Gone with the Wind, when Scarlett O’Hare is overwhelmed by her surroundings as she helps the Doctor with the wounded, and dying? The camera follows Scarlett running outside to escape the sights and sounds of war only to run into more of the same. There is no escaping the soldiers bleeding and dying bodies.

This author not only shows you this type of scene through Charlotte eyes but she goes a step further. She does an incredible job of allowing the reader to experience the nitty-gritty of the Civil War without getting grotesque. The reader experiences the unforgettable sights, sounds, smells and struggles medical professionals went through in order to help soldiers and themselves survive!  Jocelyn is a well crafted writer. She paints scenes in her novel that made me feel as if I were actually there!

Charlotte is confronted in the field by a Doctor, “Sympathy doesn’t save lives. Science does. Efficiency does. If you feel too deeply, it will cloud your judgment, slow you down. I know it’s hard for a woman to understand – that’s why medicine has always been a man’s job!”

She is then accosted by a female administrator of the hospital who tells her, “If you want to be accepted as a nurse, you will do as the Doctor says and not ask questions. Asking questions implies that you do not trust the Doctor’s decisions, his diagnosis, or his treatment. It implies that you could do it better. That he is incompetent. That’s grounds for dismissal…if you don’t drop that strong-minded, women-of-reform attitude, no Doctor, and I mean not one, will want to work with you.”

She had her work cut out for her. No one said it’d be easy. Charlotte didn’t make comments like these or her family’s disapproval get her down. “She knew eventually they’d have to accept women into the ranks, even if it were through doing the dirtiest of jobs: with Gods help she’d make it thru.” It’s funny that nowadays the nursing field is mostly thought to be a woman’s job.

I liked how this author showed the Civil War and the struggles from many different angles. Not only did she highlight Charlotte a woman of privilege, fighting her way into the battle field to become a nurse, but she showed what it was like to be a woman left behind when her husband goes off to fight in the war.

Ruby was the woman left behind to try and figure out how to do life alone. Ruby was honest and strove to do the right thing in Gods eyes. She didn’t know how she was going to make it on the $2.50 per week she made sewing. How would she make it until her husband sent her money? Some women she knew were turning to prostitution to make it through. She was horrified at the idea. She’d think of something else. But the reality was her sewing job took up over 12 hours of her day there wasn’t much time to do a whole lot else. Would God provide a way when there seemed to be no other way?

Of course predicators raise their ugly heads in times like these. Jocelyn shows that side of the war too. She shows how in horrific situations some people take great delight in the fact they have found a way to make themselves rich in the middle of others misfortune.

During the war the innocent and desperate were abused and forced into prostitution (much like human trafficking today). Others made money through scams. Sad all this accrued when the country and its people really needed to work together for the common good!

Wow, what an amazing story based on real women in history. When I finished the last page of this book I was changed, much like how I felt after watching Dances with Wolves and Gone with the Wind. Both movies opened my eyes to things I never thought of before or knew existed and it changed how I viewed periods of American history. If only our history book in school was this exciting and memorable. Grin! This is a great book club pick as there is so much to talk about in it. This book is to be experienced and then shared with friends. I highly recommend it.

Reviewed by: Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network

Bonus Review:

Wedded to War takes place during the Civil War.  Charlotte Waverly comes from a well-to-do family in the North, and is expected to settle down marry like any other woman of her class.  She is pursued by a man named Phineas Hastings, but she can’t quite bring herself to commit to him.  When the war breaks out, there is a call for woman nurses.  Charlotte feels compelled to join the cause, much to the dismay of her mother and to Phineas.  In the process, she comes across Caleb Lansing, a friend from many years ago who helped Charlotte through her father’s death.  They both have feelings for each other but are afraid to voice them.  In the meantime, they are separated by the war.  Charlotte eventually makes her way down South to work on the ships that take care of the wounded.  Throughout the story, she struggles with her identity as well as prejudices from men who felt woman had no business being nurses. 
This was a wonderful book!  And I was surprised to see that it’s the first book that the author has written.  She did a great job.  She based the story on the life of Georgeanna Woolsey, a real Civil War nurse.  The book was exciting and had a lot of twists and turns.  All of the characters were well developed.  I can’t wait to read book two!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers