Monday, May 30, 2016

Kiss the Bride: Three Summer Love Stories (A Year of Weddings Novella) by Melissa McClone, Robin Lee Hatcher, Kathryn Springer

Book Description:  Meet the people who make it all happen—the planners, the photographers, the musicians who have helped orchestrate the perfect day for countless couples—as they find their own happy endings in the second Year of Weddings novella collection.

My Thoughts:   Ahhh...yes, it's that time of the year where romance is in the air and weddings galore.  And a a Year of Weddings Novella...three great authors pen short stories of love and bliss.
First, Picture Perfect Love: A June Wedding Story by Melissa McClone is all about that perfect picture.  But even as Jenna Harrison takes photographs of weddings and bridal couples she longs for, members her own "none" wedding with her beautiful wedding dress hanging in her closet.  As she takes photos of our couples can she forgive and take a second chance on her ex fiancee?  A sweet love story of forgiveness and  love.
Then there's I Hope You Dance: A July Wedding Story by Robin Lee Hatcher.  A cute story of missed dance steps and rodeos.  This is short story reminded me of the Texas Two Step...two people missing every other step but still dancing to the tune of love.  
The last short story is Love on a Deadline: An August Wedding Story by Kathryn Springer.  I haven't read any of Kathryn Springer's stories so this was a great introduction to her writing.  This was such a great story I wanted it to be a "full" book.  I loved MacKenzie “Mac” and her story.  Sometimes, as Mac, finds out what we think is love is not the love we seek.  Great story!
Loved all three of these wonderful stories!

*This book was provided for review BookLook*

  • Series: A Year of Weddings Novella
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (May 31, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310395879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310395874

COTT {Clash of the Titles}

I don't know about you, but my May flowers have sure benefited from the abundance of April Showers. Our summer reading season is just about here, and we at Clash of the Titles 
encourage you to put these 
April releases on your reading list.




Seattle Debutant Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister from Charles, the family busy-body who threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But can Sofi trust this handsome immigrant from Ireland whose gentle manner hides secrets of his own, and can Neil, the gardener continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, wanted for murder by the British police?

Buy on Barnes and Noble
Buy on Amazon

29065083

Birdie, the young Songkeeper, emerges from the hold of a slave ship to find a world on the verge of collapsing before the might of the Takhran’s armies. Desperate to end the fighting, she embarks on a dangerous mission to seek out a mythical spring hidden within the heart of her
enemy’s fortress—a spring that legend claims can defeat the Takhran once and for all.

Buy on Barnes and Noble
Buy on Amazon

27172188

What once was blazing hatred has turned to lasting love, but could the union of a wild heart with that of a lady ever result in more than heartache?

Buy on Barnes and Noble
Buy on Amazon

Mail Order Surprise


To protect her children from their deranged grandmother, a widow becomes a mail order bride, but she didn’t expect to find more than safety amongst the chaotic rancher’s household.

Buy on Amazon




Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Heart's Betrayal (A Journey of the Heart, book 4) by Colleen Coble

Book Description:  Emmie finds shelter in the arms of a soldier, but her secret could drive them apart.
When Emmie Croftner answered the door to her late husband’s home, she discovered an awful truth:  her deceased husband was a bigamist. And what’s more, the home she thought she inherited never belonged to her at all. 
Suddenly displaced, powerless, and ashamed, Emmie can’t stay in Wabash, Indiana. She makes a hopeful start for Fort Laramie, Wyoming to find her friend Sarah Montgomery and a new beginning. But when she arrives, she discovers she’s pregnant—and without a husband. The new start she’d hoped for slips from her fingers.
My Thoughts: This is book 4 in A Journey of the Heart mini books.  A Heart's Betrayal is more about Emmie Crofter and it's a heart breaker of a read. 
Emma finds out the truth about her deceased husband. Turns out he was quite a scoundrel! And what she thought she had inherited does not belong to her.  She is in dire straits.  She decides to go to her dear friend in Wyoming, Sara Montogomery but once there she discovers that she is pregnant and this brings on a whole new set of "problems."  A pregnant woman in this day and time did not have a lot of options and people thought less of her and her child.  But, unfortunately, Emmie thought she was married to a wonderful man but it turns a out her husband was a a low down skunk.  But Emmie must go on.  
All that Emmie had thought about and hoped for seems to slip right through her fingers.
A great read filled with hope and faith.
OF course this is not the end.  There is still book 5, A Heart's Promise. And I can't wait to read how Emmie's life will turn out.
*This book was provided for review by BookLook*
  • Series: A Journey of the Heart (Book 4)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (June 2, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0529103435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0529103437

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

I love this salad!  Again, a great Pinterest recipe!
Recipe courtesy of Morton's Steakhouse:
Servings: 4
INGREDIENTS
2 heads iceberg lettuce
¾ cup Bacon Bits
1/4 cup egg, hard-boiled, chopped {I leave out the eggs}
1/4 cup tomato, chopped
1/4 cup blue cheese
1 1/2 cups Morton's Blue Cheese Dressing (below)


Morton's Blue Cheese Dressing Ingredients
1 cup real mayonnaise
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs sour cream
2 tbs buttermilk
1/2 tsp Durkee Famous Sauce*
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3.5 oz (about 1/4 cups) blue cheese, crumbled


DIRECTIONS FOR DRESSING


1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Add the buttermilk, Durkee sauce, and seasoned salt. Whisk until well mixed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and whisk again.
2. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the blue cheese. Transfer to a storage container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 1 day and up to 4 days.


DIRECTIONS FOR SALAD


1. Remove any wilted outside leaves from lettuce head. Strike bottom of lettuce head on a flat surface to loosen core. Pull core out. Place lettuce head on cutting board and slice from top to bottom. Remove approximately one inch off each side, depending on the size of the head. Slice two 2-inch thick slices from center of head. Repeat with second head.
2. Ladle dressing across wedge so that it runs over one side. In this order sprinkle: bacon bits, chopped egg, chopped tomatoes, and blue cheese over the top of the salad.



*Durkee Famous Sauce is sold in many supermarkets. It's a vinegar-flavored mustard-mayonnaise type of sauce.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

{A "Gotta" Read} The Auschwitz Escape (a novel) by Joel C. Rosenberg

Book Description:  A terrible darkness has fallen upon Jacob Weisz's beloved Germany. The Nazi regime, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, has surged to power and now hold Germany by the throat. All non-Aryans -- especially Jews like Jacob and his family -- are treated like dogs.
When tragedy strikes during one terrible night of violence, Jacob flees and joins rebel forces working to undermine the regime. But after a raid goes horribly wrong, Jacob finds himself in a living nightmare -- trapped in a crowded, stinking car on the train to the Auschwitz death camp.

As World War II rages and Hitler begins implementing his "final solution" to systematically and ruthlessly exterminate the Jewish people, Jacob must rely on his wits and a God he's not sure he believes in to somehow escape from Auschwitz and alert the world to the Nazi's atrocities before Fascism overtakes all of Europe. The fate of millions hangs in the balance.


My Thoughts:  Joel C. Rosenberg writes with a death defying description that left this reader gasping for breath and a rapidly beating heart.  
The scenes, the senselessness of it.all, the hope, the courage and the escape!  Oh!what!a!read!  
Reading about WWII is a passion of mine but when an author like Mr. Rosenberg writes a novel that feels so real, that feels like it took place yesterday, and when the events seem as if they could be happening right now, in this very country....well, the reader may, just as I did, gently close the book, take a deep breath and timidly open the pages again to read about Jacob.  
Ah!  This was not an "easy" read for me.  Breath taking, heart pounding, mind boggling...how could people...how could one man {Hitler} be so cruel!??!  Why would people follow a mad man?!?! How do these atrocities come to pass?!?!?  
At times it was hard to read but yet, hard not to read!  Wanting to know what was going to happen but barely daring to breathe...now that's a book that begs to be read by all!
What a read!

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (March 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414336241
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414336244




Monday, May 23, 2016

COTT {Clash of the Titles}

And the Laurel Winner Is....



2016 LAUREL AWARD WINNER

Author Delia Latham's novel 
~At First Sight~
is the winner of Clash of the Titles's sixth annual Laurel Award.



CONGRATULATIONS, DELIA!

Delia will receive the following: a beautiful banner to display on her website; a year-long page on COTT dedicated to the winning book, At First Sight; a feature tour on COTT's Blog Alliance; and a lovely plaque.

At First Sight was chosen by a panel of judges who narrowed the list of competing novels to three. From there, the panel put their choices to a straight vote. Delia's novel, At First Sight, took home the crown.

Special thanks to each of our judges who volunteered their time to this contest!

BRIEF SUMMARY OF At First Sight
Reagan Massey has gone through a great deal of trouble to make her cousin irresistible to the visiting single minister but things get a little sticky when Reagan falls in love with Cord Phillips herself…



Stay tuned for the full-length feature of Delia's winning novel, At First Sight!

Friday, May 20, 2016

{Fiction Guild Team Challenge} Dawn at Emberwilde (A Treasures of Surrey Novel) by Sarah E. Ladd

Book Description:  Isabel Creston never dared to dream that love could be hers. Now, at the edge of a forest filled with dark secrets, she faces a fateful choice between love and duty.
For as long as she can remember, beautiful and free-spirited Isabel has strained against the rules and rigidity of the Fellsworth School in the rolling English countryside. No longer a student, Isabel set her sights on a steady role as a teacher at the school, a safe yet stifling establishment that would enable her to care for her younger sister Lizzie, who was left in her care after her father’s death.
The unexpected arrival of a stranger with news of unknown relatives turns Isabel’s small, predictable world upside down, sweeping her and her young charge into a labyrinth of intrigue and hidden motives.
At her new family’s invitation, Isabel and Lizzie relocate to Emberwilde, a sprawling estate adjacent to a vast, mysterious wood rife with rumors and ominous folklore—along with whispers of something far more sinister. Perhaps even more startling, two handsome men begin pursuing Isabel, forcing her to learn the delicate dance between attraction, the intricate rules of courtship, and the hopes of her heart.
At Emberwilde Isabel will discover that the key to unlocking the mystery of her past may also open the door to her future and security. But first she must find it—in the depths of Emberwilde Forest.

My Thoughts: Isabel Creston is junior teacher at a girl's school.  And one day she is summoned to the office...she is hoping it is for the job of a governess.  But, no she is summoned to her aunt who lives at Emberwilde.  All of Isabel's family has passed away except for her half sister, Lizzie.
When Lizzie and Isabel go to Emberwilde it is not quite as it seems and their aunt makes over Isabel but it seems that the other aunt knew nothing of their arrival.
There are two suitors for Isabel.  So the romance is somewhat a love triangle until the endish.  
The mystery of it all was quite enthralling.  It was an intricate plot mischief in the first degree.
As Isabel lives at Emberwilde she must go to through Emberwilde Forest to find the the secrets of her past and when she does the secrets come forth and it makes all the difference in her life.
A grandtastic read!

*This book was provided for review by BookLook*

  • Series: A Treasures of Surrey Novel
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 10, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718011813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718011819

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Beautiful Pretender (A Medieval Fairy Tale) by Melanie Dickerson

Book Description:  After inheriting his title from his brother, the margrave has two weeks to find a noble bride. What will happen when he learns he has fallen for a lovely servant girl in disguise?

The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.
Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.
Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences.

My Thoughts:  I love these "remakes" of the fairy tales by Melanie Dickerson.  This particular story, The Beautiful Pretender, is a mix between Beauty and the Beast and the Princess and the Pea.  By coincidence these two princess stories are two of my favorite fairy tales.
I love the pretend part of Avelina's ruse so that the prince doesn't know her real identity. Adeline has been sent in the place of the princess to be the guest of The Margrave of Thornbeck, whom we met in The Huntress of Thornback Forest, he took over after his brother's death.  However, the prince is drawn to her...she just has that special something about her. But the prince is like the Beast...he is gruff and well, beastly. 
This is a well thought out plot with a lot of character building.
I've enjoyed all of the "fairy tales" that Melanie Dickerson has penned but this story, The Beautiful Pretender, is my all time favorite.  I love the story line.  It's a fantastic tale! It's also a fun and light read.  

*This book was provided for review by BookLook*

  • Series: A Medieval Fairy Tale (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 17, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718026284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718026288





WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}


I found this wonderful recipe on Pinterest.
Easy cinnamon waffles made with 
Pillsbury cinnabon rolls.

Ingredients:

1
can Pillsbury® Grands!® refrigerated cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing
1
cup powdered sugar
3
tablespoons milk
1
teaspoon vanilla

    • Directions: 
    • Heat waffle maker; spray with cooking spray. Remove cinnamon rolls from can; set icing aside.
      • For each waffle, place 1 cinnamon roll in center of waffle maker; close. Bake 3 to 4 minutes or until waffle is thoroughly cooked and golden brown.
    • Meanwhile, in small bowl, stir together reserved icing, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla until glaze is smooth.
    • Serve glaze over hot waffles.  
    These are also delicious served with real maple syrup instead of the cream cheese glaze. Add some toasted pecans for extra crunch.

  • ***Be sure to spray the waffle iron in between each waffle. The sugar from the cinnamon roll can make the waffles stick.


 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

{The Fiction Guild Team Blog Tour} A Dream of Miracles (The Amish Wonders Series) by Ruth Reid

Book Description:  Amish widow Mattie vows never to love again . . . until a suspicious outsider with a shadowy past comes crashing into her fragile world.
Mattie Diener can barely keep it together. A young Amish widow and mother of two young children, she faces the lingering heartbreak of lost love, her son’s mysterious illness, and a torrent of accusations that threaten to undo her.
Bo Lambright is a fast-rising social services investigator whose high-society mother won’t rest until she finds his Mrs. Right. Despite Bo’s worldly success, the raw ache of a shadowy past and a series of unsettling dreams have left him reeling.
When Mattie and Bo cross paths, all signs point to disaster. Yet as they face a crucible of trials and tragedies together, longings begin to stir that seem destined only to end in more heartbreak. Is a miracle possible—not only of healing but of forbidden love? What secrets lie in Bo’s dreams? And will Mattie find the courage to face her uncertain future . . . or will she simply run away?

My Thoughts:   It's been awhile since I've read a novel by Ruth Reid and I was pleasantly surprised to see that her novel is about an Amish widow.
This wonderful story is about the Amish ways as well as the English ways of life.
First of all, Mattie is an Amish widow who loved her deceased husband and as vowed to never love again...it hurts to lose a dearly beloved person.  And Mattie has two sweet children. 
Not only did Mattie lose her husband but now her son has this mysterious illness.  As a mom Mattie is distressed over her son's illness and missing her husband.  Life is hard!
Then there's Bo Lambright.  Bo is on the road to success but his mother!  
Now Bo and Mattie cross paths...not a good first meeting.
And they are both trying to find their footing in life.
I loved this story!  I found it to be a well thought out story with many life like truths.
A great read for all fans of Amish fiction!

*This book was provided for review by The Fiction Guild Team*

  • Series: The Amish Wonders Series
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (April 12, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401688314
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401688318

The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim

Book Description: When Leora Ebersole sees the small plane crash in her Old Order Mennonite community, she has no idea it’s a foreshadowing of things to come. When the young pilot, Moses Hughes, regains consciousness, they realize his instruments were destroyed by the same power outage that killed the electricity at the community store, where Englischers are stranded with dead cell phones and cars that won’t start.

Moses offers a sobering theory, but no one can know how drastically life is about to change. With the only self-sustaining food supply in the region, the Pacifist community is forced to forge an alliance with the handful of stranded Englischers in an effort to protect not only the food but their very lives.

In the weeks that follow, Leora, Moses, and the community will be tested as never before, requiring them to make decisions they never thought possible. Whom will they help and whom will they turn away? When the community receives news of a new threat, everyone must decide how far they’re willing to go to protect their beliefs and way of life. 

My Thoughts:  I'm not a sci-fi or apocalyptic novel type of reader but when I saw this interesting novel about the Old Order Mennonite and Englischers I knew it would be a powerful read.  
Yes, indeed, The Alliance, is one unforgettable read!  
When a small airplane crashes in this Old Order Mennonite community, at first, it seems like just an accident.  Until people begin to realize that the electricity outages all over may all be related.  
Lenora saw the mall plane crash but it never occurred to her that maybe this was no ordinary crash.  As the days go by it becomes quite a parent that this community with its people will have to make decisions they never dreamed of making.
Then there's a huge threat that requires Mennonites and Englischers to come together to survive.
WOW!  What a read!  
I loved the mixture of "old ways" and "new ways" and how the people, despite their cultural and religious differences come together to survive.
Loved this read!

*This book was provided for review by Tyndale*

Meet the Author:
Jolina Petersheim is the bestselling author of The Midwife and The Outcast, which Library Journal called "outstanding . . . fresh and inspirational" in a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. Her writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction books, and numerous online and print publications such as Reader's Digest, Writer's Digest, and Today's Christian Woman. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live on a solar-powered farm in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin with their young daughters. Follow Jolina and her blog at jolinapetersheim.com. 

  • Series: The Alliance
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.; Reprint edition (June 1, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1496402219
  • ISBN-13: 978-1496402219