Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Fire In Ember by DiAnn Mills

Book Description: John Timmons' life is planned and orderly. He cares for his mother and four younger brothers, and their future depends on him to keep their Colorado ranch profitable. Ember Farrar (Bert) has run away from her lawbreaking family in search of a new life. But, when she attempts to return a horse that her brother had stolen, ranch hands believe she is a thief and a boy and they plan to hang her. John, who is also a deputy marshal, breaks up the hanging. After paying for the stolen horse, he takes the boy home to work off the debt. Later he learns Bert is a girl who refuses to tell him who she is and why she possessed a stolen horse. When ranchers report stolen cattle, Bert is a natural suspect. John is touched by Bert's sweet spirit and natural gift of music. Surely she's not a cattle thief. Bert fears for their lives when she is forced to either help her brothers steal or put the Timmons in danger. When John thinks Bert has betrayed him, he ignores God and turns revengeful. Will John learn who Bert truly is? Will their lives ever return back to normal?

My Review: Diann Mills is among my favorite authors!  The Fire In Ember is one of those stories that makes one feel the pain and the misery of trying to right a wrong.
Bert (Ember) wants/tries to be different than her lawbreaking family.  She wants honesty and uprightness but at times it seems that the honesty may not be the best policy.  
That's how Ember feels after trying to return the horse her brothers stole.  John, the deputy marshal thinks Bert (Ember) is a young man stealing the horse not returning it to its rightful owners. John, still thinking that Bert (Ember) is a young man, pays for the horse so that Bert (Ember) won't be hung by the others for horse thievery.
Then John finds out that Bert (Ember) is a girl. A girl!  That changes many things.  
Ember won't open up to John.  She's afraid and he doesn't know why.  Intrigue!  Western days! and Romance!  Make this one of the best westerns I've read!  I loved the feelings that Ember displayed and the honesty and integrity of John.  
A well written, 5 star read for men and women!  This is the first book of the Timmon's and I look forward to reading more!

*This book was provided for review by Zondervan*

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Coca Cola Cake

Tomorrow is my dad's birthday.  
And this is the birthday cake I usually make for him:


1/2 cup butter
1 cup Coca-Cola
3/4 cup miniature marshmallows
square (1 ounce size) semi sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
2 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup Coca Cola (plus 2-3 Tbsp. additional if needed)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate syrup


Place in a sauce pan butter, cola, semi sweet baking square and bring to a boil remove from heat and add marshmallows and stir until all is blended and the marshmallows are disappear. Set aside to cool enough to tepid or room temperature. 

In mixing bowl blend the shortening, oil, vanilla and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and buttermilk and beat until smooth. Mix flour with baking soda, cocoa, baking powder and salt, add half of flour mixture to shortening, egg mixture, and beat. Scrape bowl time to time to clean the sides off so ingredients are blended in batter. Add cooled coca cola mixture and beat. Add remainder of flour and beat until completely smooth about 3 - 4 minutes. Batter will be thick. Place batter into a 13" x 9" x " 2 oiled and floured baking pan. Set pan on top shelf in a preheated 350* F oven for 35 - 40 minutes. Check for completed baking time with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean by sticking in the middle of the cake it is time to come out of the oven and cool. For Frosting: Cream butter, add cocoa, vanilla, Hershey's Syrup, and coca cola, beat until smooth. Add powder sugar a little at a time and beat constantly. Scrape the sides of bowl time to time to get all ingredients into the frosting. If the frosting seams a little dry add a little more coca cola and beat well. Frost warm cake. Serve with natural vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . .

Congratulations to Delia Latham for taking the crown in last week's Staff Clash. Two anonymous COTT staffers went into the ring and readers had another hard choice to make. Some said:
  • "This was a cruel choice!! LOL! They were both excellent."
  •  (About Delia's excerpt): "Beautiful words expressing emotion and making the reader want more."
  •  "Intense emotions on both excerpts! Great job!"
  •  "Terrific excerpts!"
  • (About Katie's excerpt): "I need to know Wulf better! I have a feeling he's dreamy."
  • "Awesome clash with two well-written, emotion-packed scenes! Great job, authors!"
Of course, nobody knew at the time that those authors were Delia Latham and Katie McCurdy.
Both are recent additions to the staff. Delia has come on board as a Blog Alliance Correspondent, and Katie is the official Talent Scout. (Looks like COTT scouted some talent when they found these two gems.)
This fun excursion was a great interjection into the usual good times shared at Clash of the Titles. This week sees another fierce challenge with nameless authors nominated by COTT staff. Be sure to head over there and vote now!
And in just 2 weeks, the party begins! Mark your calendars for October 10th and be ready to play for extra prizes all month long as COTT celebrates it's first anniversary. Your vote will determine which of the year's winning authors will receive the ultimate honor: the Laurel Award.
* by Assistant Editor of COTT, Michelle Massaro 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Belonging{Where the Heart Lives} Robin Lee Hatcher

Book Description:
In the high desert town of Frenchman's Bluff, Idaho, Felicia Kristoffersen has set out to create a future for herself that is better than her painful past. Alone in the world with only her faith to sustain her, she must prove herself as this tiny community's new school teacher. She cannot, must not, fail. But, there are those who never wanted her there to begin with. Five years after the death of his wife, local merchant Colin Murphy cares about just one thing: raising his daughter, Charity. Colin wants to give her the educational advantages he never had. The new schoolmarm's inexperience doesn't sit well with him, and if this teacher up and marries like the last one did, Charity's heart will be broken once again. A woman who hasn't known love. A man who lost the love he had. In the midst of the wide, sage-covered plains, each is about to discover that life's bitterest circumstances truly can work together for good. 
My Review:
Even though I truly love a good mystery/suspense read, there are times when I just want a "normal" read.  A story that has to do with everyday life . . . plans and purposes that other people incorporate into their lives.
I've read almost all of Ms. Hatcher' s books and have thoroughly enjoyed them.  So, when Belonging came available....I grabbed it!
Felicia is a character that I could really relate too.  She is off to her first teaching position into the high desert country.  <I, too, had my first teaching position in the desert, teaching small Navajo children>  And now Felicia, even though she is trained to teach and she wants to teach, this is her first, ever, teaching position.  Some people think first time teachers can't do the job but truly first time teachers may do a better teaching job and, of course, every one must gain experience somewhere.
So, Felicia begins teaching.  She has Charity, Colin's daughter in her class room.  Colin feels that Felicia isn't experienced enough to teach...but Colin begins to "have feelings" for Felicia.
Meanwhile, Gunnar, Felicia's "cousin" writes to her telling her that Rolf wants to marry her.  He feels that Felicia should be grateful to his parents for adopting her/taking her in when she was just a dirty little orphan.  He feels that Felicia should meekly come back home and marry Rolf.  Felicia does not want to marry Rolf!  She just wants to leave her painful past behind and be the best teacher she can be. "She'd made the right decision coming to Frenchman's Bluff.  She would make a home for herself here. She would win the children's affection, and she would teach them far more that they expected." (quoted from p. 49)
This is a wonderful story of love, forgiveness and of finding where you "belong."  I really liked this read...out of all the books that Ms. Hatcher has written I love this one!
*This book was provided for review by Zondervan*

{Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour} Heiress, Book One of Daughters of Fortune by Susan May Warren AND Giveaway!

Book Description: 
They can buy anything they want—fame, power, beauty, even loyalty.
But they can’t buy love.The beautiful and wealthy heiress daughters of August Price can buy everything their hearts desire. But what if their desire is to be loved, without an enormous price tag attached? When one sister betrays another for the sake of love, will she find happiness? And what happens when the other sets out across the still untamed frontier to find it—will she discover she’s left it behind in the glamorous world of the New York gilded society? What price will each woman pay for being an heiress? Set in the opulent world of the Gilded Age, two women discover that being an heiress just might cost them everything they love.
My Review:  I've read every book that Susan May Warren has written!  So, when I had the opportunity to read Heiress I was sure that this read would be excellent.  I was not disappointed.
Heiress is a historical novel dealing with the Gilded Age.  Having read only one other book that tells about the Gilded Age I found this read to be informative as well as enlightening.
Godey's Lady's Book seems to be the "norm" that every wealthy young woman must follow if she truly wants to become part of society.
Jinx and Esme Price are sisters but opposites in every way.  Jinx wants, no craves, to become the envy of all the wealthy.  She wants to marry and become a wealthy heiress. Esme couldn't care less about money or being the great woman of society she simply wants to write.  Becoming a brilliant journalist is her goal. Jinx is also falling in love with Foster Worth, the man that Esme is to marry. And then . . . Jinx and her mother come up with an outrageous plan to save the family fortune.  While Esme is secretly in love with the butler's son.  The butler's son helps Esme to submit her stories as The Anonymous Writer to her father's newspaper.
And then there's the parallel lives of the very wealthy and the very poor who live side by side in the big city.  Susan writes this part of history in a blockbuster sort-of-way that makes the reader feel the "living history" of .the story
Heiress is a fantastic story full of intrigue, dark secrets, adventures, passion and faith!  One of those WOW! reads that will have the reader trying to guess what is going to happen next!   
As, always, Susan May Warren brings a grand adventure to the blank page making the reader wish for more!
*This book was provided for review by Litfuse Publicity Group*

Susan is celebrating the release of Heiress                                                             with an opulent Gilded Age Giveaway!
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A $100 gift certificate to
  • A sleek silver iPod™ Shuffle
  • A beautiful strand of Pearls
  • Titanic DVD
  • Speakeasy Compilation Music CD from Starbucks™
  • Heiress by Susan May Warren
Click one of the icons below to enter. But do so soon - this giveaway ends 10/5/11. The winner will be announced Thursday, October 6 on Susan’s blog.

See what others are saying about this great read: Blog Tour
About the Author:
After serving as a missionary for eight years in Russia, she returned home to a small town on Minnesota’s beautiful Lake Superior shore where she, her four children, and her husband are active in their local church.
Susan May Warren is an award-winning, best-selling novelist of over twenty-six novels, many of which have won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the ACFW Book of the Year award, the Rita Award, and have been Christy finalists.
You can find her online at:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Forever Faithful (The Complete Trilogy) by Karen Kingsbury

Book Description: 

The entire best-selling Forever Faithful trilogy, now available in one volume:

Waiting for Morning
   A drunk driver...a deadly accident...a dread destroyed.  When Hannah Ryan loses her husband and oldest daughter to a drunk driver, she is consumed with hate and revenge.  Ultimately, it is a kind prosecutor, a wise widow, and her husband's dying words that bring her the peace that will set her free and let her live again.

A Moment of Weakness
   When childhood friends Jade and Tanner reunite as adults, they share their hearts, souls, and dreams of forever--until a fateful decision tears them apart.  Now, nearly a decade later, Jade's unfaithful husband wants to destroy her in a custody battle that is about to send shock waves across the United States.  Only one man can help Jade in her darkest hour.  And only one old woman knows the truth that can set them all free.

Halfway to Forever
   Matt and Hannah...Jade and Tanner--after already surviving much, these couples must now face the greatest struggles of their lives: parental losses and life-threatening illness threaten to derail their faith and sideline their futures.  Can Hannah survive the loss of an adopted daughter?  Will Tanner come through decades of lonliness only to face losing Jade one final time?
My Review: 
Wow!  Three books in one!  
Waiting for Morning:  the first book in the series.  It is a heart.rending read that left me feeling bereft but also left me with high hope...there is always a tomorrow. Imagine losing your beloved husband and oldest daughter to death caused by a drunk driver who walks away from the accident barely scathed!
I felt Hannah's despair <truly did!> because Ms. Kingsbury writes with such emotion! One can feel the emotions of the character.  
But then Brian, the drunk, who killed Hannah's husband and daughter, has a story too.  Can he overcome?
Will hate, angry and despair take up the meaningful lives of two people who don't even know each other?  
Great read!  Forgiveness and God's mercies are ever so evident in this read!

A Moment of Weakness:  the second book in this series.  And a WOW! touched my heart because!
A man and a woman each happily  ensconced in their own lives and then they meet again!  They laugh, they reunite as they were in the "old days" and they share on an intimate level.  
Jade has issues from her past.  an unforgiving father and an adulterous mother.  Both have made Jade feel unloved because of their selfish acts.
When Jade and Tanner reunite, they feel like a missing piece has been found but they both get too  involved emotionally to step back and do the right thing.
One small step leads to another, then another until the whole scene is mess! 
A grandtastic read about letting go and letting God fix it!  Be warned *Kleenexes are needed!*

Halfway to Forever: the conclusion. 
Bringing the couples, Matt and Hannah; Jade and Tanner, all together in this last read.  
I love a good conclusion, closure that leaves me feeling that it has all worked out well.  Now, if you're a reader of Karen Kingsbury books you know that the story never ends the way you think it will.  She always puts a twist in the turn that leaves the reader slightly stunned but knowing THAT is how the story should be.
This is a BIG book . . .1117 pages full of emotions, turmoil and faith filled lives.  Three books in one and even though it took me four days to read it all, I simply couldn't put it down.  I read one story and then simply continued on to the the three in one reads!
This complete trilogy is like feast with a dessert bar!  Don't miss these fantastic stories!
*This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah*

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last Light by Terri Blackstock

Book Description:  Today, the world as you know it will end. No need to turn off the lights.Your car suddenly stalls and won't restart. You can't call for help because your cell phone is dead. Everyone around you is having the same problem . . . and it's just the tip of the iceberg. Your city is in a blackout. Communication is cut off. Hospital equipment won't operate. And airplanes are falling from the sky. Is it a terrorist attack . . . or something far worse? In the face of a crisis that sweeps an entire high-tech planet back to the age before electricity, yourfamily faces a choice. Will you hoard your possessions to survive-or trust God to provide as youoffer your resources and your hearts to others?Yesterday's world is gone. Now all you've got is your family and community. You stand or falltogether. Like never before, you must rely on each other. But one of you is a killer. #1 bestselling suspense author Terri Blackstock weaves a masterful what-if novel in which globalcatastrophe reveals the darkness in human hearts-and lights the way to restoration for a selfcenteredworld. Last Light is the first book in an exciting new series.
My Review:   My great aunt gave me this series after she read it and so I've decided to go back and read some books that I seem to have missed.  
Last Light is the first book in the Restoration Series by Terri Blackstock.
Let me just say...WOW! Talk about a read that will make one think!  This is an excellent, could this really happen read!?!
It is one of those heart thumbing, stayed.up.too.late because I just need to know what is going to happen next!  
This read begins with ALL electricity and modern conveniences coming to a dead stop!  People have to find a way to get home without cars, find a way to cook without electric or running water, no grocery stores are open because store can't function without electricity.  
Also, the "evil" comes out in people.  Good people try to maintain some sense of decorum. 
This is an excellent read!  But be warned...Don't begin this book if you need to get up early the next day!

About the Author:

Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. Terri spent the first twelve years of her life traveling in an Air Force family. She lived in nine states and attended the first four years of school in The Netherlands. Because she was a perpetual "new kid," her imagination became her closest friend. That, she believes, was the biggest factor in her becoming a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Southern Living's Honey Chicken Salad

Still TOO HOT to Cook~So love this salad!


  • 4 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • celery ribs, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Garnish: chopped toasted pecans


  • 1. Combine first 4 ingredients.
  • 2. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients. 
  • Add to chicken mixture, stirring gently until combined. 
  • Garnish, if desired.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Baker's Wife by Erin Healy

Book Description:  What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, so why is Audrey weakening day by day? 
It's been a tough year for Audrey's family. Her husband Geoff, a pastor, lost his job after a scandal rocked their congregation.Audrey hasn't lost faith. She's held her family together. Their attempt to resurrect a failing bakery is an effort to heal the family wounds and restore their place in the community.Late to the bakery one dim, foggy morning, Audrey turns into the intersection in front of the shop and strikes a vehicle that she can't see even after the collision settles. Emerging from her car into the fog, she discovers she's hit a motor scooter. There's no rider in sight. There's blood, though, so much that she slips in it, injuring her wrists.The absence of the scooter driver is a mystery, especially to Sergeant Jack Mansfield, the detective and church member who drove Geoff from his pulpit. The scooter belongs to Jack's wife, Julie, a teacher at the local high school. She has vanished like morning fog.Though there is no evidence to support Jack's growing suspicion that Audrey and Geoff were involved in Julie's disappearance, the detective is convinced of their guilt. Jack's ability to reason slips as the leads on his wife dry up.When Jack takes the tiny bakery and its patron’s hostage, Audrey must find Julie and unravel the secret of her own mysterious suffering before Jack comes undone.

My Review: This read intrigued me with just the title, The Baker's Wife.  And then after reading the description of the story I thought, "Wow!  A book about a preacher's wife!  I need to read this."  (well, I'm a preacher's wife too.)  
Thinking this would be a swift, to.the.point mystery I began reading this one night before bed.  BIG mistake!  I got so engrossed in the story--Geoff Bofinger has been excommunicated from his church.  The accusing member, Jack Mansfield, convinces the church board that Geoff is not fulfilling his ministry duties and should be sent away.
So, Audrey, Geoff's wife with the help of her hired woman, Estrella, take over the defunct local bakery.  Audrey and Estrella make the most sumptuous delicacies.  And the bakery begins to make a name for its self.
Then one morning as Audrey is driving to the bakery with her son, Ed, she hits a motor scooter.  She hops out to help and access the situation but there is no body, just ALOT of blood.  Audrey looks everywhere and to be found!
When  Jack Mansfield learns that Audrey hit his wife's motor scooter and that the body is missing, he blames and believes that Geoff and Audrey are trying to get back at him.  He then goes ballistic and takes hostages at the bakery.  Telling Audrey that she has a couple of hours to find Julie, his wife's body or else everyone is going down.
Well.....this is where I couldn't stop reading!  What!
Incredible mystery!  Non-ending suspense!  Great-tastic read! 
*This ebook was provided for review by BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishing*
About the Author:
The Irish girl in me has long been fascinated by the concept of thin places, a Celtic name for locations where the veil between physical and spiritual realities is so slim that a person can see through it. For me, thin places are revelations, bridges between the seen and unseen elements of our lives. Read my books and journey with me into the mysterious places where the spiritual world intersects what is familiar to us, and changes it forever.

Monday, September 19, 2011

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . . Tournament of Champions

Tourney Banner 2

Happy Anniversary, Clash of the Titles!

It's been almost a year since COTT opened its voting-booth doors and invited everyone in. Over the past twelve months, readers have chosen 25 Clash winners and received 48 free books. And along the way, a family formed. That family consists of the voters, authors, staff, and the 25+ blogs who have banded together in mutual support with COTT.

This is cause for major celebration! So COTT is doing it up to the nines.

Clash of the Titles' first annual Tournament of Champions begins next month! Over the course of four weeks, past winners from the previous year will compete in a series of clashes for the ultimate prize: the Laurel Award. The Laurel, COTT's most prestigious honor, is awarded by public vote to a single author among the year's champions.

Voters are expected to turn out in droves to support their favorites and participate in games just for readers. Each week, COTT sponsors—consisting of various authors and staff—will issue fun challenges to readers along with the chance to win gift cards, critique services, a business card design, and more. A dozen sponsors are lined up for the event so far. That's a lot of prizes!

Throughout the month, details and updates on the Tournament of Champions will be shared on the COTT website and featured within the Blog Alliance. To help spread the word, please grab the special Tournament Button (below) to display on your site. Then send a link to your page to: contactcott at gmail dot com to enter the special COTT Shout-About drawing. The drawing will take place during the first week of the Tournament and the winner will receive a Clash of the Titles mug.

Please also consider Tweeting or sharing this article on your Facebook wall.
(it only takes a second--just click the share button.)

Mark your calendars and spread the word. This BYOV (Bring Your Own Vote) party begins on October 10th!

Saturday, September 17, 2011