Monday, July 30, 2012

Pamela Binnings Ewen's Chasing the Wind ~ Reviewed

Pamela Binnings Ewen
Pages 352
Release Date Jun 1, 2012
Publisher Broadman And Holman


At 8:47 A.M. on Wednesday, October 12, 1977, new-to-town businessman Bingham Murdock flew his small plane into New Orleans, banking it in such a way that a ray of sunshine shot through the city at light speed.

Amalise Catoir saw the flash from her sixteenth floor law office window. Finally feeling alive after the death of her abusive husband, she imagined seeing the plane was a fate for her eyes only; a special connection between the unknown giver and she, the recipient of light.

But someone else saw it, a six-year-old Cambodian refugee in foster care for whom a sudden burst of brightness reminds him of artillery fire.

Destined to cross paths with the man and the child, Amalise doesn’t yet know the deeper spiritual lesson she will learn: that we are responsible not only for the things we do, but also for the things that we don’t.


Chasing the Wind continues the story of Amalise Catoir from the book Dancing on Glass.  Amalise is now picking up her life after the death of her husband Phillip.  Things are looking up in her career at the law firm, where she is put in the case of a lifetime.  However, this top secret case involves tearing down historic parts of New Orleans to put up hotels and casinos.  Amalise is troubled by this, and while driving through the areas to be demolished, meets a family with foster children.  Amalise becomes very attached to an orphaned Vietnamese boy named Luke who has also become attached to her.  She becomes torn between doing her job to the best of her ability, and saving the home of this family and little boy she’s grown to love.  In the meantime, she’s finding her feelings for her long time friend, Jude, are changing into love, but she is unsure what to do about it.
I enjoyed this book more than the prequel.  The storyline wasn’t as dark, and Amalise had a better grip on what was right and wrong in this book.  It was an okay, book, though I don’t know if I would recommend it.  However, that could be that this writing style is not my reading style.  Nevertheless, it did keep me interested and anxious to see how it would end.
Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Friday, July 27, 2012

Robin Jones Gunn's Cottage By the Sea ~ Reviewed

Robin Jones Gunn
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Howard Books; Original edition (July 3, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416583459


A daughter’s gift of time, a father’s silent wish.

Erin Bryce and her best friend, Sharlene, count the day they start their wedding planning business as a very happy day. So much so that they name their company The Happiest Day to reflect the fulfillment of their long-held dream as well as their clients’ longing for a wedding celebration to match the exhilaration of being in love. As a bonus, the two women utilize their business to help Erin’s son Jordan and his fiancĂ©e, Sierra, plan a grand wedding.

But the two friends aren’t prepared for the cloud moving in to cover the sunny, successful start of their business. Erin’s father, who lives in a small coastal Oregon community with his brusque, downright odd second wife, Delores, develops a medical problem that puts him in the hospital. Erin responds by rushing from Southern California to her father’s—and oh, yeah, Delores’s—cottage by the sea.

What greets Erin when she arrives sends her tumbling down a bewildering path to a different kind of happiest day. Her journey tosses her through highs and lows of hurt and healing, betrayal and renewal, wrong assumptions righted, and the brightest future one could ever hope for. All just around the corner, at the cottage by the sea.


Cottage By The Sea
is about a woman named Erin Bryce.  As the story begins, Erin and her best friend Sharlene have just opened up their own business, The Happiest Day, meant to help brides-to-be plan their wedding day.  However, the first day the business is opened a tragedy occurs.  Erin’s father, who remarried after the passing of her mother, has a stroke, and Erin feels she must travel to Oregon to check on him.  Upon arriving, she sees he’s doing ok, so she returns home, vowing to keep in better touch with him and visit more often.  But as her business booms, and one of her sons plans a wedding, time gets away and she doesn’t make it.  A year and a half later, when her father doesn’t make it to her sons wedding, she calls, only to find out he’s had a severe stroke a few weeks previously.  Erin rushes up there to be with him, and ends up staying longer than expected as his condition worsens.  However, while there, she begins to find the peace of God which had been lacking in her life for so long because she had been so busy.  
This book was a tad slow going at first, but I really enjoyed it.  I have a picture in my mind of this charming “cottage by the sea” that Erin’s father lived in, and would love to visit there myself.  Mostly, though, I liked how the situation was able to bring Erin and her father closer together, and help Erin re-prioritize the important things in her life.  This was a great book.
Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Deborah Raney's After All ~ Reviewed

Deborah Raney
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Howard Books; Original edition (May 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416599959

Eighteen months after the tragic Grove Street Fire took the life of her husband and four other heroic firefighters, Susan Marlowe thinks she’s finally beginning to heal. But then she discovers that David carried a secret to his grave-a secret that changes everything she thought about their marriage. For the sake of their sons, can Susan forgive the unforgivable?
Andrea Morley lost her closest friend in the fire. But she has no right to mourn him. Instead, she must forever grieve in silence-for someone else’s husband. Peter Brennan carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. As Hanover Falls fire chief, he was responsible for the brave firefighters who lost their lives that awful November night. Can he ever shake the feeling that he could have somehow prevented the tragedy? And now it seems he might find comfort in the arms of the woman he least expected.

Accomplished writer Deborah Raney concludes her Hanover Falls trilogy with After All,  an engaging and moving love story between two forty somethings, dealing with tragedy and loss and the fragile hope of a new relationship.  Deborah’s experience and skill is revealed in the authenticity of her characters, heartfelt prose and sensitively entwined spiritual truths. Susan and Peter are very appealing as much for their strengths as their weaknesses, as they navigate single hood and then new attraction. There were times that I wanted to smack Peter for some thoughtless behaviour, yet that only underlined the realism with which Deborah writes. The underlying mystery is not intense but adds to the depth of the story and reveals an interesting twist at the end that I’m still in two minds about!  Deborah’s stories never disappoint and I highly recommend After All and the entire Hanover Falls series.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mindy Starns Clark's and Leslie Gould's The Amish Bride ~ Reviewed

Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736938621


Bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould offer readers The Amish Bride, Book 3 in the Women of Lancaster County series, which tells the stories of young Plain women as they explore their roots, connect with family, and discover true love.

Ella Bayer and Ezra Gundy are in love and hope to marry someday, but she is a young Mennonite woman while he is an Amish man. Though both Plain, one of them will have to forsake what they believe to embrace another way of life.

Hoping some distance will cool the relationship, Ezra's family sends him to work at an Amish dairy farm in Indiana. But Ella disregards what her family wants and follows Ezra. In short order she finds a place to live, a job in a bakery, and an unexpected but budding friendship with a handsome Amish farmhand, Luke. When a family tragedy forces Ella back to Pennsylvania, she must face all she's been running away from. And once she has made peace with those around her, she has an important decision to make: Whose Amish bride will she become--Ezra's or Luke's?

The Amish Bride is book three in The Women of Lancaster County.  In this book we focus on Ella Bayer, a young Mennonite woman who is in love with Ezra Gundy, a young Amish Man.  They love each other, but both no the difference in their religious backgrounds could keep them apart.  They decide to go to Indiana, where Ezra is to learn the ins and outs of working on a dairy farm, and Ella plans to escape a troubled home life and pursue her dreams of becoming a bakery owner.  Her time away is also to learn some family secrets for her grandmother as well as to escape seeing her estranged father who has returned into her life.  In the meantime, she meets another Amish man, Luke.  It seems as if she’s being pulled in so many directions, and she is unsure about trusting God to lead her instead of doing what she wants to do.

This was a good story.  I read book one in the series, but haven’t read book two yet, so it took a while to catch myself up to the characters.  Ella’s character was interesting.  She was so headstrong in her decisions, that I almost got annoyed with her at times, and found myself wanting to talk some sense into her.  In the end, though, she listened to the Lord and found that life was way better with his leading then it would have been had she followed through with her own plans.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tessa Afshar's Harvest of Rubies ~ Reviewed

Harvest of Rubies [Paperback]  

Tessa Afshar (Author)
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: River North; New Edition edition (April 20, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802405584


The prophet Nehemiah's cousin can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve great mysteries. There is only one problem: she is a woman.

In her early childhood years, Sarah experienced the death of her mother and her father's subsequent emotional distance and she came to two conclusions: that God does not care about her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth - the measure of her self.

Sarah, the talented scribe and cousin to Nehemiah, is catapulted into the center of the Persian court, working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen. Ironically, it isn't failure but success that causes Sarah to lose her only source of external validation.

Sarah soon learns that she has something of worth to offer beyond her ability with languages and sums - her very being proves to be a blessing to others.


Set in an ancient Persian empire, Harvest of Rubies is rich with historical elements and contains a strong romance thread. Nehemiah is the cupbearer to the king and his cousin, Sarah, like Esther before her, finds favor with the royals. Her skills with languages, reading and writing make her invaluable to the queen. When Sarah does the queen a good turn the queen bestows a gift/blessing on Sarah as a reward. However, this reward has challenging, seemingly disastrous results in Sarah’s life. 

The strong faith element within the book is of an ancient Hebrew vein vs a salvation message. Times of teaching crop up through Nehemiah, a wise old gardener, and Sarah’s own thoughts. Interestingly, the author added a few mysterious happenings that Sarah investigates so the story clipped along.  

There were a few times at the beginning that I wondered if I was going to like Harvest of Rubies. However, I found myself drawn in by the story and finishing it up quickly so the story conquered minor annoyances. If you love a bit of intrigue, romance and history this is a book you should check into.

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Kay Warren's Choose Joy ~ Reviewed

Choose Joy
Kay Warren
Hardcover: 259 pages
Publisher: Revell (April 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800721721


Everyone knows how to be joyful in the peaks of life.

I've graduated!
I'm engaged!
I've been hired!
I'm having a baby!
I'm cancer-free!

When all your fondest hopes and wildest dreams come true, and your heart nearly explodes with happiness, it's easy to feel joyful.


But what about the valleys? When nothing seems to go your way? When everything is falling apart? When God is silent, and you feel all alone?

Where does joy fit into those moments?

In Choose Joy, acclaimed author and Christian leader Kay Warren shares the path to experiencing soul-satisfying joy no matter what you're going through. Joy is deeper than happiness, lasts longer than excitement, and is more satisfying than pleasure and thrills. Joy is richer. Fuller. And it's far more accessible than you've thought.

Joy comes from God . . . and it can be yours! Today.


“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything Is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.” (p. 31)


Kay Warren uses this definition of joy throughout this amazing book to show readers that joy – real, lasting joy, doesn’t depend on our circumstances, but rather who God is and what Christ has done to redeem us from sin and ourselves. Using personal experiences and examples, and a very honest voice, Warren teaches some very powerful truths from God’s Word. This is, as I’ve already stated, an amazing book!

Once again, a God appointment in my life, I’ve learned some very solid truths about God, and some very unflattering things about my own spiritual condition. I’m just being honest. But there is HOPE! God is working in my heart and teaching me things – growing me in my faith – and drawing me closer to Him. I am learning what God’s definition of joy is in a very real way.

My highlighter and Bible were employed throughout this wonderful book, and I will be re-reading very soon! We serve an amazing God, folks! He can bring joy into your life that the world can never change. Praise HIM!!!

Needless to say, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK!! It’s amazing! Be blessed!!

Reviewed by: Kim Ford

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lacy Williams's The Homesteader's Sweetheart ~ Reviewed

The Homesteader's Sweetheart (Love Inspired Historical)
Lacy Williams
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired (May 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0373829175

Back Cover


Sanctuary in Wyoming?

To escape a dreaded arranged marriage, Penny Castlerock will face anything--even life on her grandfather's farm. But it isn't the rustic lifestyle that's got the Philadelphia socialite tied in knots. It's the handsome homesteader and his eight adopted children next door....

With seven boys and a girl to raise, transplanted farmer Jonas White could sure use some help. He just didn't expect it to come from the high-spirited, copper-haired beauty he's always admired from afar. But surely working the land is no life for a woman like Penny. Yet a threat to Jonas's farm just might show him how perfect Penny is for him after all.



The Homesteader’s Sweetheart is about a young, well-to-do woman named Penny Castlerock, who escapes to her grandfather’s farm to escape marriage to her father’s business partner. While with her grandfather, she is forced to live a simpler life, and comes to realize she enjoys it more than she thought she would. In the meantime, she meets Jonas White, her Grandfather’s neighbor. He lives with his eight adopted children. When Penny volunteers to help him with his little girl, they begin to realize their growing feelings for each other, but are each too self conscious to say anything. In the meantime, Jonas’ farm is being threatened and he doesn’t know how he’ll support his family, while Penny’s sinister “intended” tracks her down and uses forceful measures to persuade her into marriage.

These are the kind of books I enjoy. I love the time period and the setting. I love that Penny’s character, while well-to-do and spoiled, is still down to earth and has a heart of gold for helping others. It was fun watching the love story between her and Jonas develop as well. This was a great read!

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers


Friday, July 13, 2012

Nikki Arana's The Next Target ~ Reviewed

The Next Target
Nikki Arana
Paperback: 400 pages

Publisher: David C. Cook (June 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404312


It only took one bullet. Austia’s friend and student fell dead. And with a glimpse of a newspaper headline, the young and recently widowed Austia knows more about what happened than the police. From that fatal night, Austia’s secret outreach to the U.S. Muslim community—in the guise of English language classes—becomes a target. Local Muslim extremists set their sights on ending her ministry and even her life. And the women she ministers to will be next.

A thick web of deceit closes in around Austia, and her circle of friends becomes smaller by the day, even as she finally opens herself to the idea of falling in love again. But who can she trust? Facing a spiritual battle that proves more treacherous than it at first seemed, Austia’s convictions are tested to their limits and her heart becomes primed for breaking. She must ask herself: how much she will risk to stay true to her herself, her faith, and to the lives of the women she serves?

Nikki Arana has penned a romantic suspense novel that will challenge your thinking in a number of ways.  Bringing her personal passion of reaching Muslims for Christ to the pages, The Next Targetis a powerful story of sacrifice, compassion and forgiveness.  Nikki’s story of Austia’s secret ministry to Muslims and the ultimate sacrifice many Muslims make when they decide to follow Jesus is confronting and meaningful.  Cultural misunderstandings and ignorant prejudices on both sides make for compelling reading and are cause to re-evaluate our own thoughts and actions.  With the underlying powerful messages The Next Target also offers terrific suspense and an authentic romantic element.  I was both moved and encouraged by Nikki’s story and I recommend you add this one to your wish list immediately.

Reviewed by: Rel Mollet

Bonus Review:

I blame Nikki Arana, author of the Next Target for my lack of sleep during the latter part of July. Each night, her heroine Austia, a widow passionate about seeing Muslims experience the love of Christ, beckoned and held me page after page and chapter after chapter. Her life and heart were at stake. Should she go to the police, not only would she risk her ministry, but she’d endanger the lives of every Muslim woman who entered her ministry doors.

The story opens with a chilling honor killing—a young Muslim woman named Sabirah murdered at the hands of her cherished uncle. Before she dies, she’s given a chance to renounce her faith and live. But she will not. Cannot. Instead, she cries out to the only one who can save her—her beloved Jesus. Moments before the gun fires, the woman is whisked away and into the presence of her Heavenly Father.

We soon learn, Austia is one who told Sabirah about Jesus. Suspecting her and her ministry, radical Muslims begin to zero in, creating a dangerous web of deceit … a web Austia blindly stumbles into.

Throughout the novel, Nikki Arana handles a difficult subject with authenticity and grace. It is clear she did a great deal of research while writing this novel. It is also clear her love for the Muslim people mirrors that of her main character. With never a predictable moment, authentic and dynamic characters, and a sprinkling of heart-stirring romance, Nikki Arana’s the Next Target is by far the best suspense novel I’ve read in some time. 

Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Kathi Lipp's The Get Yourself Organized Project ~ Reviewed

The Get Yourself Organized Project: 21 Steps to Less Mess and Stress
Kathi Lipp 
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (May 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736943854 


Finally, an organizational book for women who have given up trying to be Martha Stewart but still desire some semblance of order in their lives.
Most organizational books are written by and for people who are naturally structured and orderly. For the woman who is more ADD than type A, the advice sounds terrific but seldom works. These women are looking for help that takes into account their free-spirited outlook while providing tips and tricks they can easily follow to live a more organized life.
Kathi Lipp, author of The Husband Project and other "project" books, is just the author to address this need. In her inimitable style, she offers
  • easy and effective ways women can restore peace to their everyday lives
  • simple and manageable long-term solutions for organizing any room in one's home (and keeping it that way)
  • a realistic way to de-stress a busy schedule
  • strategies for efficient shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, and more
Full of helpful tips and abundant good humor, The Get Yourself Organized Project is for those who want to spend their time living and enjoying life rather than organizing their sock drawer.


Kathi Lipp’s style of organizing makes sense. I love to look at glossy pictures of beautiful rooms, but my rooms look anything but most of the time. Lipp uses common sense tips to help the wannabes reach just a bit more and find the solution that conquers their clutter, so her advice was something I could wrap my mind around. Where one family may use the dining room table as a catch all, another might have front door issues. She goes into the flow of the room, how to identify and conquer trouble spots and gives hints and tips from others who may share your unique struggles. Lipp also comes across as a chatty girlfriend who’s been there rather than a lofty expert. This is a plus when I want to tackle a problem. Nothing like a lofty expert to make me hide my head in shame. I’ll never, never, never be a Martha Stewart clone, but I could learn a few good hints from Kathi Lipp.

Lipp covers all areas of the house (and a few life issues, too) and tackles them one at a time. Bathroom got you buried, turn to the section on bathrooms. Office your nightmare? Good news, she covers that one, too. She even has a chapter on food preparation and organization which just might reimburse you for the price of the book, over and over again if you are prone to hitting drive-thrus due to “what’s for dinner?” paralysis.  If you are looking to get organized and tame your clutter beast this is a great resource. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, July 09, 2012

Gail Gaymer Martin's A Dream of His Own ~ Reviewed

Gail Gaymer Martin
Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 224
Vendor: Steeple Hill Books
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 0373877463


The only thing philanthropist Quinn O'Neill wants is to forget the accident that took his wife and son. He doesn't expect a fender bender with a lovely stranger to change his life in a major way. Struggling single mom Ava Darnell and her teenage son have their own hardships.


A Dream of His Own is about two adults who have gone through terrible losses.  Quinn O’Neil leaves the big city and his big business to escape in a small town after an accident takes the life of his wife and son.  Ava Darnell is trying to cope with the loss of her husband, while at the same time praying that her 15 year old son stays in remission after a bout of cancer.  They unexpectedly “run into each other” during a fender bender and feel an instant connection.  But as their relationship grows, so does the friction between them, as they are both keeping secrets about their pasts from each other. 

I really enjoyed this book.  At times, you really thought they just might not make it as a couple.  There were a few times when I wanted to give Ava a talking to because of her attitude, but she eventually let the Lord lead and help her.  This was a really good book.  I think my favorite character was Brandon, Ava’s son.  He started out  as a bitter teenager and grew into a really nice young man.  I do wish the book talked about salvation.  She talked about the characters going to church, reading the Word, and trusting the Lord, but never brought up salvation.  I would have liked to see that fit in there somewhere.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Jennifer ALee's A Wild Goose Chase Christmas ~ Reviewed

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas, Quilts of Love Series #2
By: Jennifer AlLee 

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: Abingdon Press
Publication Date: 2012
Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 1426752490


Upon her grandmother's death, Izzy Fontaine finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt that supposedly leads to a great treasure. Of course, once the rest of the family finds out about the "treasure map," they're determined to have a go at the treasure themselves. And, if that weren't enough, Max Logan, a local museum curator, contacts Izzy and says that Grandma Isabella promised him the quilt.What is it about this quilt that makes everyone want it? Is Izzy on a wild goose chase of her own, or a journey that will lead her to the treasure her grandmother intended?


A Wild Goose Chase Christmas is about a young woman named Izzy Fontaine.  After he grandmother’s passing, she finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt that her grandmother left her, and supposedly, it leads to a great treasure.  The quilt itself leads Izzy on a wild goose chase, as new clues and even a map show up, which in turn brings Izzy’s family in on the hunt as well.  In the meantime, Max Logan, a local museum curator, has become involved as well, as Izzy’s grandmother let him in on the value of the quilt as well.  What can this great treasure be?  No one knows, but everyone wants to find out.

I really liked this book.  It was really sweet how the grandmother planned out all of these clues and surprises to bring the family closer together, and to lead Izzy to her “greatest treasure.”  I especially liked watching the change that came over Izzy’s mother.  She began as a very uppity woman who seemed to be very into herself, but she began to soften throughout the course of the story, and I really enjoy seeing that change in a character.  This was a very cute book and a fun read.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions: Veganize It! Foolproof Methods for Transforming Any Dish into a Delicious New Vegan Favorite
Celine Steen , Joni Marie Newman
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Fair Winds Press (December 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1592334415


Veganize Any Recipe with Confidence!

The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions is your secret weapon to turning any recipe imaginable into a deliciously “veganized” success—no guesswork or hard labor involved. And no more kitchen failures or recipe flops either. Simply look up whatever non-vegan ingredient you want to sub out, and expert author team Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman will explain exactly what substitution is best to use and how to make it without compromising taste or flavor, so you’ll create dishes that are not only better than the “real” thing, but healthier, too.

With more than 200 recipes and substitutions that show the swaps in action, you’ll find step-by-step instructions for replacing everything from butter and bacon to gelatin and gouda. You’ll also find healthy substitutions for replacing things like gluten, sugar, and fat, so you can fine-tune any recipe to your dietary needs.

Stunning photography and easy-to-follow charts appear in every chapter, making it a cinch to dip in and out whenever you need a quick reference or recipe.

If you’ve always wanted to turn your aunt’s famous mac and cheese into a veganized taste sensation, or your grandma’s buttermilk pie into a rousing, “reinvented” success, The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions is the solution you’ve been looking for!


This is a terrific resource for a person who is exploring plant-based or Vegan cooking or a more seasoned cook who is looking to cut back on buying the processed Vegan friendly items. This is also a good resource for someone who's looking to transition out of meat and dairy products and wants to trade out traditional pantry/refrigerator items with plant-based substitutions.

I'll admit I purchased this complete guide because of the darling illustrations along with the implied promise that I could figure out this whole new way of cooking without animal products. And I have not been disappointed with my decision. I like the compact size of the book, as well.

Once I received my copy of The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions I glanced through it but didn't embrace it as a go-to cookbook. It was more of a resource for me. But after having it awhile I've begun to cook out of it and mark more recipes I'd like to make.

The book is broken down differently than a standard cookbook. Instead of appetizer, main, sides, salads, desserts type of format, the divisions are topical.

Section One has loads of recipes and is called "Let the Cows Some Home! Foolproof Substitutions for Dairy". It is further broken down by a milk sub and cheese sub chapter. Included are recipes for making nut cheeses, dairy free sour cream, milks and even chocolate bars. Each section has a chart that explains what an item does for a recipe and the items that you can use to replace it. (Most have more than one substitution and quite a few have a gluten free or soy free version that will work.)

There are a total of six sections: substitutions for Dairy, Eggs, Meat, Animal Products, one that encompasses Gluten, Soy, Sugar and Fat substitutions and finally a complete chart of subs. Note: the sugar and fat substitutions are not fat and sugar free, i.e. the authors use of agave or maple syrup or brown rice syrup instead of standard sugar.

Some of the recipes are quick and easy, and some rely on processed Vegan friendly foods. Example Cookie Cookies (cookies made with crushed sandwich cookies...hence the name, I'd guess) . Recipes will call for purchased patties and or meat subs. But there are recipes for make your own seitan, boiled and baked versions. And they include recipes on making your own "bacon" bits, hot dogs, "pepperoni" subs and even baby back ribs and fish sticks.

Several recipes are stack recipes, ones that call for another recipe to be made prior to making the end result. For example the Savory Artichoke Pie includes the  Roasted Squash Lentil Spread.

Recipe measurements are in weight and volume which is nice. And some of the unique recipes they provide include unusual items like Vegan marzipan, graham cracker crust, "ham", make your own gluten free baking mix, cheese fondue and a non-fermented dairy free yogurt. 

Ingredients like miso, nutritional yeast, agar flakes, vital wheat gluten and TVP are maybe unfamiliar to brand new Vegans but can be found on-line or in health food stores or sections.

I personally have prepared the Baked Seitan Cutlets and the Speculoos Cookies and can recommend both as worth the price of the book and of the shelf space. 

Reviewed by: Kelly Klepfer

Monday, July 02, 2012

Sean McDowell and Bob Hostetler's The Quest ~ Reviewed

Sean McDowell and Bob Hostetler 
Format: Paperback
Vendor: Outreach Publishing
ISBN-13: 9781935541424


A single phone call launches twenty-three year old Emma Seeger on the journey of a lifetime. And it turns out to be a more dangerous--and more consequential--journey than she could have imagined or feared.
The call is from a woman Emma despises most in the world--her father's wife. Emma's stepmother, a woman who had taken away Emma's father, not once, not twice, but three times. She had turned Daniel Seeger into a "born-again" Christian, married him, and dragged him off to Israel, where they worked as some sort of missionaries--an occupation Emma views as misguided, if not outright dangerous. Now Emma learns that her father has disappeared!
The Quest involves a young woman named Emma Seeger.  She is a struggling college student, trying to come to grips with the fact that her father has just remarried, a “Christian,” no less, and has gone off to live in Israel to be a missionary.  Out of nowhere, Emma gets a call from her stepmother, Katya, informing her that her father has been missing for three days and no one knows where he is.  Emma scrapes up what money she has and flies to Israel to help in the search for her father.  Little does she know the God is using this experience to draw her to Him.
 I honestly wasn’t sure I would be able to get into this book, but after the first chapter, I was hooked.  I enjoyed the way the author’s used the character of Katya to explain why she knew the Bible was true, and the evidence she used to back it up.  It was very interesting, and there was just enough suspense to keep you involved, but it was not overly done.  I feel like the gospel itself could have been presented a bit more clearly, but it was still an enjoyable book.

Reviewed by: Sarah Meyers