Friday, July 31, 2015

COTT {Clash of the Titles} COTT Features: "Until the Harvest" by Sarah Loudin Thomas

This follow-up story will delight readers of Thomas’ previous novel, but, it reads perfectly as a standalone as well.                                       
                                                  – RT Book Reviews Top Pick – 4.5 stars

About the book:
When a family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. Although Henry tries to find escape in bad company, the only things that can tamp down his anger and grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and sweet but unusual pre-teen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, with the freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has the opposite effect. Worse, she’s his grandmother’s housekeeper and helper, so she’s always around and ready to push his buttons. At first he thinks she doesn’t care about his loss, before beginning to understand she’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries, and Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as both Henry’s future and Mayfair’s life are put at risk.

Until the Harvest


A note from the author:

Good Books and Great Food

Eating and telling stories are two of my favorite things so it’s only natural that food turns up in my writing over and over again. The second book in the Appalachian Blessings series—Until the Harvest—opens with the hero, Henry Phillips, enjoying one of his favorite dishes–venison steak. And a little later he partakes of . . . fried squirrel.

Now, before you turn up your nose, understand that in my growing up years we ate quite a bit of game including squirrel. Plenty of folks still enjoy it. And my mother made the best squirrel gravy. If you tried some on a biscuit, I bet you’d think so, too.

My books aren’t about food, but food plays an important role in each one. Life on the farm—in West Virginia or anywhere else—centers on raising and harvesting food. Readers often comment that my books make them hungry, so today I thought I’d share a couple of recipes with you. One for Emily Phillips’ fried squirrel (courtesy of my mom, Nancy Loudin) and one for Margaret Hoffman’s egg salad (courtesy of WV chef Dale Hawkins). 

Hope you enjoy the book AND a good meal!

What COTT voter had to say:
--I have enjoyed "getting to know" Sarah Loudin Thomas via social media and eagerly look forward to reading both of her novels.
--I absolutely loved Until The Harvest, by Sarah Loudin Thomas!
--I love Sarah Loudin Thomas's books! She is a favorite of mine!!
--Absolutely LOVED Until the Harvest by Sarah Loudin Thomas. UTH has it all--life lessons, "get real" God moments, and the sweet stirring of love--all set amidst the beautiful backdrop of Appalachia country. No ten dollar words here--just great storytelling at its absolute finest!
--Sarah Loudin Thomas, I have loved both of your books! Keep 'em comin'!
--Sarah Loudin Thomas: keep up the good work and allowing God to reach people through your writing!
--Sarah Loudin Thomas is one of my favorite authors. I love the way she tells a story! I can always feel what the characters are feeling.

Fried Squirrel with Gravy

Makes 4 servings

2 large squirrels
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
Oil or lard for frying
Milk and water

Soak the cleaned squirrels in a pan of water in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Cut into pieces, place in a large pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until the meat is tender, but not falling off the bones. Drain. Season the meat with salt and pepper and roll in the flour. Heat oil or lard to shimmering in a cast-iron skillet and add the pieces without crowding. Fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove to drain on a brown paper bag. Leave about two tablespoons of oil in the skillet and add two tablespoons of the flour left over from dredging the squirrel. Stir the flour until it’s lightly browned. Add milk and water alternately, stirring constantly, until your gravy is as thick as you like it. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with hot biscuits.

Egg Salad

8 eggs
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool. Peel and grate on a box grater. Place the eggs in a bowl and stir in the mayonnaise, mustard, and green onion. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir and serve.

About the author:
Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to 
live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, released August 2014 through Bethany House and won the 2015 Selah Award and an INSPY Award for debut fiction. Book #2, Until the Harvest, released May 2015. 

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and play tug-o-war. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Matchmaker: An Amish Retelling of Jane Austen's Emma (The Amish Classics) by Sarah Price

Book Description:  When Emma's interference in her friends' lives backfires, will the consequences be more than she bargained for?

Emma Weaver is twenty-one years old and has found a passion for playing matchmaker with her Amish friends.  Her neighbor, Gideon King, warns her about interfering in people's lives, but she disregards his advice and plans to set up Paul, the son of the Amish bishop, with her friend Hannah.
But when Paul misinterprets Emma's attention, believing she has feelings for him, he begins asking her to ride in his buggy after Sunday singings and shows up at her house for Friday evening visits.  As she tries to repair the damage that's been done and mend the hearts that have been broken, she finds herself in trouble with the community.  Will she learn her lesson and stop meddling in the affairs of others?  Will she find a love of her own?

My Thoughts:  After reading First Impressions: An Amish Tale of Pride and Prejudice (The Amish Classics)
matchmaker...that she has found her "niche" in life.  However, her neighbor, Gideon King, views Emma as an intruding person who wants to control people's lives.
Then when Emma decides to play matchmaker for Paul. Paul thinks that Emma has feelings for him.  This causes a mess.  And, O!What!Mess!
The story is funny as Emma tries to untangle the love vine. 
Sometimes it takes consequences in life to make one understand that God is in control and not a person or matchmaker.
A delightful and enjoyable read!  

*This book was provided for review by Bookteria*

  • Series: The Amish Classics (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Realms (February 3, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1629980048
  • ISBN-13: 978-1629980041

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

I found this great and quick recipe on Pinterest 
for those times I NEED a quick cookie fix:


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

{Kregel Blog Tour} Direct Hit (The Blitz Detective) by Mike Hollow

Book Description:  On the first night of the Blitz, a body is discovered in a van in the back streets of West Ham. DI John Jago is called to the scene and recognizes the body as local Justice of the Peace and businessman Charles Villiers. Shortly afterwards a blast destroys the scene. Jago quickly establishes that Villiers’ wife and adult son Edward both have possible motives, and that there was a rift between Villiers and his brother Arthur. But as he begins the investigation, Jago is annoyed when his boss tells him to help an American journalist who’s writing about public morale – even more so when he finds it’s a woman, Dorothy Appleton. As Jago and Appleton follow leads, they realize that the dead man held many secrets, some of which reach back to World War I. Rather a lot of people wished Villiers dead – and an air raid is a good time to bury bad news.

My Thoughts:  Oh, wow!  Mike Hollow has written quite a book in Direct Hit, The Blitz Detective.  The subtitle caught my attention... The Blitz Detective.  And that, my  reader friend, is why I chose to read this book.  A detective who is caught in the throes of a war but yet, there is a dead person, a case to be solved during a war!  Interesting that there are so many dead peoples, yet one body in a van is to be investigated and it brings out so much trouble.  
On the night of the Blitz in London.  A body (as in dead) is found.  It just happens to be the body of the local Justice of the Peace, Charles Villers.
And right after the body is found...a "direct hit" destroys the scene.  Hmmm!  Interesting!  And that is the thought that Detective John Jago has as he thinks of this incident.
But wait, there is way more to this mystery . . . 
There are many, many secrets.  And then to top it off John Jago's boss insists that Dorothy Appleton an American journalist be able to follow/go with Jago as he tries to solve this case.  
Detective John Jago and his side kick, Dorothy make for a lively read!  Love this dynamic duo!
It's interesting how the author directs the reader back to WWI throughout the WWII scenes.
I thoroughly enjoyed this well written, interesting read.  

*This book was provided for review by Kregel Publications*

Meet the Author: 
Mike Hollow was born in West Ham, on the eastern edge of London, and grew up in Romford, Essex. He studied Russian and French at the University of Cambridge and then worked for the BBC and later Tearfund. In 2002 he went freelance as a copywriter, journalist and editor. He's a published poet, and nowadays when not writing about the Blitz Detective he makes his living as a translator.

  • Series: The Blitz Detective
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kregel Publications (June 27, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782641270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782641278

Monday, July 27, 2015

COTT {Clash of the Titles} Welcome to the June New Releases Clash

What a great bunch of books to take on vacation or read under a shady tree this summer. Selections include a Regency romance, a thriller, the story of an abandoned child found by the shore and two Westerns. 

Unmasked Heart by Vanessa Riley       

A young woman reconciling the lies of her birth must learn her true worth, unmasking her heart to true love, but will she find her soul mate in a duke running from scandal? With everything she knows to be true evaporating before her spectacles, can the mulatto passing for white survive being exposed and shunned by a powerful duke who has taken an interest in her?

Rodeo Reunion by Shannon Vannatter
Slade Walker, the bronco-riding rodeo chaplain breaks all of widowed Raquel’s rules—find a father for her son with a safe occupation, who’s home every night. He can’t turn his back on the cowboys who need him, but Raquel and her boy need him, too.
Two Days in Caracas by Luana Ehrlich
In this pulse-racing Christian thriller, Titus Ray, travels from Costa Rica to Venezuela in an effort to stop Ahmed, a Hezbollah assassin, from murdering a high-profile government official.
Finding Mia by Dianne J. Wilson
Isobel is on the beach hunting for her muse. What she finds is a toddler, sunburnt and close to death.
The Rancher Takes a Cook by Misty Beller
When their South Carolina home burns to the ground, Anna Stewart’s only choice is to move with her younger brother to the wilds of a Texas ranch. When danger escalates in the form of a band of cattle thieves with deadly intent, can Anna learn to release control to God’s capable hands...and those of the blue-eyed cowboy who’s stolen her heart?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Book Description:  Who knew making dinner could change your life? Louisa Copeland certainly didn’t. But when the George Foreman grill falls out of the pantry onto her head, resulting in a bump and a mighty case of amnesia, Louisa’s life takes a turn for the unexpected. Who is this Collin fellow, claiming she is his wife? And whose kids are those? Her name can’t be Louisa. Why, she is the renowned romance writer Jazz Sweet, not a Midwestern mom of three. Struggling to put the pieces together of the life she’s told she had, Louisa/Jazz may realize that some memories are better left alone.

My Thoughts:  I loved the title of this book and this is another new author for me so I grabbed this read!
Louisa Copeland is the perfect wife.  Don't you just love that her last name begins with "cope."  Since Louisa seems to be able to do anything and do it well. She copes well.
But that one fateful afternoon when George Foreman knocks her cold...ah!  not The Boxer but the grill....Louisa begins to find herself.  And, well, it seems that her husband begins to find out a few things about himself as well as his perfect wife.
So, Jazz, the creative/bold woman begins the life of Louisa, the boring/bland, woman.  Sometimes when we think we have it all together that's when God allows things to unravel so that we find Him in our everyday mess.
The old story of amnesia is told in an all new way.  And it's pretty funny at times.  But this story also has a serious note.  My take?  Do we, women, try to be too perfect and maybe, just maybe, let life take away our joy?  Because in reality none of us are perfect as this fun story points out in quite a nice way.
A great read!

*This book was provided for review by Tyndale*

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (August 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 149640128X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1496401281

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Luther and Katharina: A Novel of Love and Rebellion by Jody Hedlund

Book Description:  She was a nun of noble birth. He, a heretic, a reformer…an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire.  

In the 16th century, nun Katharina von Bora’s fate fell no further than the Abbey. Until she read the writings of Martin Luther.

His sweeping Catholic church reformation—condemning a cloistered life and promoting the goodness of marriage—awakened her desire for everything she’d been forbidden. Including Martin Luther himself. 

Despite the fact that the attraction and tension between them is undeniable, Luther holds fast to his convictions and remains isolated, refusing to risk anyone’s life but his own. And Katharina longs for love, but is strong-willed. She clings proudly to her class distinction, pining for nobility over the heart of a reformer. They couldn’t be more different. 
But as the world comes tumbling down around them, and with Luther’s threatened life a constant strain, these unlikely allies forge an unexpected bond of understanding, support and love. 
Together, they will alter the religious landscape forever.

My Thoughts:  I think it's interesting that when we think of Martin Luther, the reformer, that we don't usually think of this great man having a wife.
And since Martin Luther is known as a German priest in the Catholic church we don't usually think of him and his romantic loves.
Jody Hedlund writes an intriguing story about Katharina von Bora a nun of noble birth and Martin Luther who at times is a little "rough around the edges."
This was a most interesting love story about two most unusual type of people to fall in love.
Jody Hedlund has done a fantastic job in researching Martin Luther's life as well as the Catholic church.
Martin Luther makes an enlightening statement about priests and nuns and that God did not intend for man to be unmarried and so, his statement comes back to "haunt." him because as Martin Luther promotes marriage Katharina who is a German nun of noble birth begins to fall in love with Martin Luther...only a marriage that God could bring together.
A fun and delightful read!

*This book was provided by Waterbrook/Multnomah*
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160142762X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601427625