Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wow {Warm Oven Wednesday} Crockpot Baked Apples

We love baked apples and now a recipe from Pinterest that you can make in your crockpot!  


1/4 cup brown sugar1/4 cup walnuts, chopped2 tablespoons trans-fat free margarine1 teaspoon cinnamon6 Gala or Macintosh apples, cored1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider
2 tablespoons orange liquor (optional)


Preheat a large crock-pot on high heat and preset it for 3 hours. In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, walnuts, margarine, and cinnamon. Fill the apples with the filling and place them in the crock-pot. Pour in the apple juice or cider and the liquor, if using. Cover and cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours on high heat until the apples are soft and begin to collapse.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Deeper Kind of Calm by Linda Dillow

Book Description: Through the Psalms, women can learn how to positively handle the disappointments of life, discern the comforting truth found in God’s Word, and be encouraged to deal with the waves of trials, depression, and discouragement.
• Includes a 4-week Bible study

My Review:  The Psalms are one of my favorite books of the Bible.  When I need comfort, peace or am in need of encouragement this is the book of the Bible that I immediately turn to.  
In a Deeper Kind of Calm Linda speaks from the heart.  Sometimes with humor, sometimes straight up and always with kindness.  
This is a short, four chapter book.  But filled with "gems" from the Scriptures.  The study guide provided at the back of the book is ideal for a short (four week) study on joy during difficult situations. The focus is on Psalm 77~ I remember, Psalm 46~ I hide, Psalm 63~I cling and Psalm 84~ I journey.
Through the soul.searching.words of Psalms we gain a Deeper Kind of Calm that comes from the Father of Love.
Even if you're not experiencing anxiety, depression, trials or discouragement this book and study will give you a faith lift and also will help you understand that even biblical heroes even had times of learning to trust more in God.
Even though this a short 103 page book (not including the Bible study pages) the depth of knowledge that one gleans from its pages is phenomenal.  
If you are longing for a Deeper Kind of Calm be sure to pick up this great-tastic book and start your study today!  You won't be disappointed!
Click HERE; then at the Amazon page click on search this book(right side under book cover)--
 to read the first chapter of this book.

Monday, February 27, 2012

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . .

* guest post by COTT Senior Editor, April W Gardner

The lovely Lisa Lickel has stopped by today to talk about her frigid Wisconsin winters, her 1830’s ship’s captain house, and her growing list of published novels. Join us!

Lisa is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and fifty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she is a multi-published novelist, has written dozens of feature newspaper stories, magazine articles, radio theater, and edits two magazines: Creative Wisconsin and OtherSheep. She is also the senior editor at Reflections in Hindsight.

Lisa is the author of A Summer in Oakville, co-authored with Shellie Neumeier, Meander Scar, Healing Grace, and The Gold Standard.

Wisconsin. Brrr! What's the coldest weather you've endured?
Lisa: The thermometers read in the negative thirties. The temp has to be at least twenty below, not just wind chill, to call off school. Once it’s minus ten or colder, it doesn’t really feel much different because you still have to bundle up the same.

Negative thirties? It was 24 over the weekend here in Georgia. You should have heard the complaining! LOL I hope you have a warm house. Speaking of which, does your 160 year ship captain's house actually sit on the lake shore? Which of the Great Lakes would that be?
Lisa: Where we live is inland from Lake Michigan about fifteen or so miles from Port Washington. It’s midway-ish between Green Bay and the current state line. The LaCrafts came to Wisconsin in the late 1830s and bought land as soon as the surveys were registered. I’m not sure exactly what they did or where they lived before this house was built in 1853, but I know that afterward he gave up his ship, which I’m guessing was a steamer or clipper with a merchant run between New York where they were from and Port Washington. Abraham Lincoln stopped at Port and speechified once, ya know.

Sounds like Captain LaCraft had a rather long and frigid buggy ride back and forth to his ship! Since you have such long, cold winters it’s a good thing your job doesn’t take you outside the home (much). How did your writing career get kicked off? 
Lisa: I was a church secretary knowing my kids were leaving home for adulthood and my job wouldn’t last forever I took the very expensive Christian Writers Guild apprentice course. I began writing for my tiny little local newspaper, features and government meetings, etc., which was excellent practice for “write tight.” Meanwhile a novel I wrote for the guild’s very first First Novel contest under Jerry Jenkins did pretty well, I wrote a cozy mystery for Barbour and signed with an agent from the guild about the same time, fall of 2007. And so forth.

Ooh, I’ve always wanted to take one of the Christian Writers Guild’s courses. Good for you for taking plunge, despite the cost!
I hear you love to travel. Do you have any funny travel misadventures you're brave enough to share?
Lisa: Okay–my husband likes these travel books called “Moon Guides.” You should look them up – they’re fun. Sometimes a little out of date, as we discovered on one journey when we stopped at what was supposed to be a mineral springs spa in the middle of – wherever we were. The motel had just changed hands and the proud grandfatherly owner showed us around, leading the way down this huge scary hallway with, I KID YOU NOT, stained ceiling tiles drooping with insulation showing, rather actively inhabited cobwebs, just totally gross, to the last two rooms in the place which he had fixed up. Out comes a very happy smiling couple from one of the rooms, exclaiming their delight with the place; he opens the last door with a flourish to a very mildew smelling room, air conditioner running full blast and a bed with an obvious droop. I wondered…well never mind. Hubby felt sorta bad about leaving, but, I mean, really…would you?

You bet I would have left! Nope, no guilt there. And it’s too funny that the other couple were gushing over the place. I wonder if he paid his neighbors to say that? LOL
You've been on staff at Clash of the Titles since its birth. Which aspect the site do you enjoy most?
Lisa: Working with you, of course. (Aw! Thanks, sweetie. And, ditto!) Meeting all the fantastic authors and finding out behind-the-scenes things to do with their work. And what I truly find fascinating is exploring books from all the different angles, such as “Best Romantic Moment,” “Best Back Cover Blurb,” “Most Delectable Hero,” – okay, made that last one up, but…something in the future?

Hey, that’s not a bad idea! Raise your hand if you want to see a Most Delectable Hero clash! 
How many of your books have been published, and which one have you gotten most positive reader feedback on?
Lisa: That’s a nice way to put it, April. As soon as The Map Quilt releases in April, that will make full length novel number five; my first book, MQ’s prequel, is re-releasing later on. I received some nice comments on The Gold Standard, the first book, and I have the most reviews and intriguing public comments on Meander Scar, an unusual romance I did in 2010.

Congratulations on the upcoming releases! Whoo hoo!! Each book an author finishes whether it’s ever published or not is a massive accomplishment. And I LOVED Meander Scar. I think I read it in one sitting, and I’ve never done that before. Ever. 
So tell us about this book you have coming?

The Map Quilt releases in April of this year.
Just how high a price does a family secret command?
Death in rural Wisconsin is only the beginning to new chaos in Robertsville. What do a stolen piece of revolutionary agricultural equipment, a long-buried skeleton in the yard, and an old quilt with secrets have in common? Hart and Judy Wingate, who met in The Gold Standard, are back to solve the mystery of The Map Quilt. Hart’s new battery design could forever change the farm implement industry. But after the death of Hart’s most confrontational colleague in a fire that destroys Hart’s workshop, the battery is missing.
Throw in a guest speaker invited to Judy’s elementary classroom who insists she owns the land under Hart’s chief competitor’s corporate headquarters, and a police chief who’s making eyes at Hart’s widowed mother, it’s no wonder Hart is under a ton of pressure to make sure his adventurous pregnant wife stays safe while trying to preserve his company and his reputation.
It sounds like a lot of fun. You're a talented author, Lisa, and COTT is privileged to call you its own!

Learn more about the talented Lisa Lickel at her site:

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beyond the Farthest Star {based on the screenplay by Andrew Librizzi} by Brock & Bodie Thoene

Book Description:  When a nativity display on public property is torched by a former US Senator, the media spotlight falls on the forgotten small town of Leonard, Texas, and the new pastor of its only church---Adam Wells. Emboldened by the prospect of leading his tiny congregation in a nationally-televised, first amendment debate that he considers to be a 'fight for the heart and soul of America,' Pastor Wells determines not to let anything or anyone, including his wife and his rebellious sixteen-year old daughter, stand in his way. But when an old high school friend unexpectedly shows up in their small town and a past secret is revealed, Pastor Wells' constitutional crusade collides with an even greater fight---the fight for the heart and soul of his marriage, his daughter, and, even his own life. In this modern-day story of betrayal, forgiveness, and finally redemption, Adam Wells discovers, for the first time, the meaning of the story he's been preaching all his life...and his desperate daughter understands what really is beyond the farthest star. Award-winning authors, Bodie and Brock Thoene, have written an emotional and authentic drama based on a screenplay by Andrew Librizzi and now a major motion picture.

My Review:  This story, Beyond the Farthest Star, by Brock & Bodie Thoene was not what I was expecting.  After reading the description of the book I was expecting a story about a demented man who was against nativity scenes and totally against God.  
Well, that is not what this read is about!  It's so much more!  
Every family seems to have its skeletons but my!oh!my!  the Wells' family seems to have more than their share. 
The book begins in a hospital room with the "darth vader breathing machine" breathing for Adam Wells.  Hs daughter, Anne, is there...thinking!  And then chapter one.
Adam Wells takes one last chance for a pastoral position in a small Texas town of Leonard...right outside of Dallas.  Lots of cowboys, dust and gossips.  But more than that, Adam wants no needs to make one last effort to be the "Billy Graham", the wonder preacher boy that his father insisted he be. 
Then there's Anne who loathes moving to Leonard and her life seems to be one big shambles.  She doesn't respect her father, Adam, and it seems that she tolerates her mother, Maurene.  But after moving to Leonard all three of these family members come to grips with the "why" of their individual existence and of God's purpose for each of their lives.
Then the secrets ... secrets have a way of exploding and making one big bang!  
The life of a pastor's family is unashamedly presented with a passion that can only come when we see "beyond the farthest star!"
Another grand read by the Thoenes!
*This book was provided for review from Zondervan*
Meet the Authors:
Bodie and Brock Thoene (pronounced "Tay-nee") have written over 45 works of historical fiction. That these best sellers have sold more than 10 million copies and won 8 ECPA Gold Medallion Awards affirms what millions of readers have already discovered--the Thoenes are not only master stylists but also experts at capturing readers' minds and hearts.
In their timeless classic series about Israel (The Zion Chronicles, The Zion Covenant, and The Zion Legacy), the Thoenes' love for both story and research shines.
With The Shiloh Legacy series and "Shiloh Autumn"--poignant portrayals of the American Depression--and The Galway Chronicles, which dramatically tell of the 1840s famine in Ireland, as well as the 12 books in the Legends of the West series, the Thoenes have made their mark in modern history.
In the A.D. Chronicles, their most recent series, they step seamlessly into the world of Yerushalayim and Rome, in the days when Yeshua walked the earth and transformed lives with His touch.
  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Mti edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310336104
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310336105

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wow {Warm Oven Wednesday} Apple Nachos in honor of President Washington's Birthday

My cousin's wife sent me this fabulous recipe!

  • 3 crispy and slightly tart apples 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
 Sliced up some apples thin enough so it would be easy to eat the slice in one or two bites. Lightly spritz the apples with lemon juice to keep them from browning too fast.
Then melt some peanut butter–until it was super runny–and drizzled it all over the apples. Next, top the apples and peanut butter with unsweetened flaked coconut, sliced almonds, a few pecans and, of course, chocolate chips.  So good and rather healthy, too!  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . .

*guest post by Raquel Byrnes

The Almost Kiss clash has been a whirlwind of romance, breathless moments, and possibilities! Your responses to the excerpts were amazing.Both books were great examples of riveting Christian Fiction available out there, but there can be only one winner and I am happy to announce that book is...
A Thyme for Love by Pamela S. Meyers!
Pamela's winning Almost Kiss excerpt was full of sparks and surprises. 

Here's a small snippet of the great scene:

...Marc tipped my chin up with his index finger. “April, you’re sweating.” He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and dabbed my forehead. I had nowhere to look but into his eyes and, once there, I couldn’t pull my gaze away. Good thing I didn’t want to. His eyes went to my mouth and he leaned closer. I lifted my chin in anticipation. So much for the boss’s orders... 

He brought his mouth closer, and the tiny elevator started to spin. Then everything went black.

If you missed it, drop by Clash of the Titles to take a peek at One Breathless Moment...

We received positive reader response for this spunky romance.

"Great tension! I was riveted to every word!"
"Love the anticipation and butterflies in the almost kiss scene..."
"The setting was marvelous, the tension leaped off the pages."

A Thyme for Love is a wonderful example of the awesome Christian fiction available. 

This week, an exciting new Unpublished Novel Clash begins. It's hosted by our very own April Gardner! Make sure you come by for another chance to vote and WIN a free book!

Monday, February 20, 2012

{Kregel Blog Tour} A Darkly Hidden Truth [the Monastery Murders #2] by Donna Fletcher Crow

Book Description:  Felicity has decided to become a nun. She departs to visit convents in spite of her mother's imminent arrival and Fr. Anselm's request that she and Fr. Antony recover a missing priceless Russian icon before the Patriarch of Moscow arrives at the community for Holy Week.

My Review:  Not having read the first book, A Very Private Grave, I thought this read might leave me wondering what was going on...not so!  
This read begins with Felicity embarking on a journey to become a nun.  Felicity reminded me of Maria in the movie, The Sound of Music.  Felicity loves life and likes change.  Sometimes Felicity changes her way of life, like wanting to become a nun, just because the notion overtakes her at the time or going off to another convent just because of the adventure.  Even though, at the time, Felicity is totally convinced that it is the right thing to do, never thinking of consequences or life results.  One cannot help but love Felicity!
Being Protestant I was slightly confused at the being of this read...I thought this was about the Catholic church but then I realized that Felicity and Anthony are Anglican (like the Episcopal church).  A Catholic priest takes a vow not to marry; whereas, an Anglican priest can marry. From a protestants view point, I found all of the church history very enlightening and informative.  
This is one read that won't leave you hanging! The mystery of sacred icons being stolen and murders abounding makes for a grand gothic read!  Ms. Crow writes with a dynamic mix of intellect and realism!  The reader can "feel" the chill of the monastery or the blandness of the dreary sky.
Then there is the emotion of family dynamics between Felicity and her mother which is so true to life or the sweet hint of romance whenever Anthony is around Felicity.  Loved the ending to this story!
This is not to be missed!  And will make you wanting more...waiting impatiently for The Unholy Communion book #3 in the Monastery Murders.  
*This book was provided for review by Kregel Publications*
About the Author:
Donna Fletcher Crow, who lives in Idaho with her husband of 46 years, is the mother of four adult children, grandmother of 10 and author of thirty-some books, mostly novels dealing with British history. Her best known book is the epic historical novel Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England, which was awarded First Place, Historical Fiction, by the National Federation of Press Women.
After almost 10 years in the publishing wilderness Donna is reentering the fray with The Monastery Murders, a series of ecclesiastical mysteries featuring Felicity Howard, an American woman studying for the Anglican priesthood in a monastery in remote Yorkshire. When Felicity's favorite monk is bludgeoned to death she finds herself learning about a lot more than theoretical theology. A Very Private Grave, the first in the series will be released by Monarch Books (Lion Hudson) in May 2010 in the UK and next Sept. in the US by Kregel Books.
She says, "I write historical novels and contemporaries that draw heavily on historical background, because I believe it is vitally important that we not loose touch with our rich historical heritage. Those who have gone before us have worked too hard and suffered too much to preserve the privileges we enjoy for us to forget their stories. Reading of the triumphs of the faithful in ages past can inspire and strengthen us for our own challenging times."
Donna is an enthusiastic gardener, enjoying the challenge of growing an English cottage garden in the Idaho desert. You can visit her garden at
She also enjoys drinking tea with family and friends and hearing from her readers. You can write to her at
  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Monarch Books (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857210505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857210500

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lazarus Awakening Finding Your Heart in the Place of God by Joanna Weaver

Book Description:  Getting God’s Love from Our Heads to Our Hearts
You believe that God loves the world…but sometimes you wonder if He truly loves you.For many of us, moving the truth of God’s love from our heads to our hearts is a lifelong process. As we consider our inadequacies or grieve our shattered dreams, we find it difficult to believe that God cares for us personally.In this life-giving book, Joanna Weaver shows you how to embrace the truth that Jesus loves you apart from anything you accomplish, apart from anything you bring. Just as He called Lazarus forth to new life, Jesus wants to free you to live fully in the light of His love, unbound from the graveclothes of fear, regret, and self-condemnation.Love is calling your name.Combining unforgettable real-life illustrations with unexpected biblical insights, Joanna Weaver invites you to experience a spiritual resurrection that will forever change your understanding of what it means to be the one Jesus loves. 

My Review:  Having heard the Bible story of Lazarus from Sunday School and church I was interested to read Joanna Weaver's book Lazarus Awakening.
I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't just another "rehash" of the Bible story.  In reading this story I always thought of Mary and Martha, Lazarus' sisters, and their reactions to the miracle of Lazarus being awakened from the dead. I never really thought of Lazarus' reaction.
Joanna brings out the joy and the laughter that must have erupted from Lazarus.  He was alive!  The Christ had spoken his name and he now lives! {Wow!  What a thought!}  Christ speaks each of our do we respond?  
I loved this from the book, "Somewhere in our bondage we cease being us and become only our problems."!  Like Lazarus I want to respond with joy when Christ "awakens" me and I become truly alive!  
At the back of the book is a list of questions to help you identify strongholds, A List of Devotionals, and Resources for Resurrected Living. There is also a 10-week Companion Bible Study which can be used for Christian Book Clubs or Small Group discussions or simply on your own.
This is a wonderful book that will encourage your christian walk!
*This book was provided by Waterbrook/Multnomah*
Meet the Author:
Joanna Weaver is known the world over for her transparent and life-changing books, Having A Mary Heart in a Martha World and Having a Mary Spirit. These two books have sold over a million copies and have been translated into several languages including Spanish, French, Dutch, Chinese, German, Korean and more. Joanna has appeared on a wide variety of nationally syndicated radio and television broadcasts. Past appearances include: The Harvest Show, At Home Live With Chuck & Jenni, Midday Connection, HomeWord, and Janet Parschall’s America. She is also a highly sought after speaker and shares her message at intimate gatherings and several high profile events each year. But Joanna's greatest joy is found in being a wife and mother and her role as a pastor’s wife. For more information about Joanna, please visit her website.

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307444961
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307444967

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Mason Jar Salad

I love this idea that I found on Pinterest...make your salad ahead for work or simply to have on hand!
Make sure dressing is on bottom and leaves are on top, then layer whatever you want in between. When ready to eat, just shake up and enjoy!
Great idea!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

COTT: Clash Of The Titles . . . Spotlight On Michelle Massaro

*guest post by April W Gardner
"I often cry when I am in prayer for my children. When eternity breaks through the here and now and the only request left in me is please, God, bring my children into the Kingdom." -Michelle Massaro


It's my immense pleasure to introduce a lovely woman to you today, and offer an opportunity to get to know her! Michelle Massaro is my right arm at Clash of the Titles. I'd be lost without her, but she's so much more than just assistant editor at COTT.

Michelle married her high school honey, Mike, and they now have four amazing children. They are passionate Creationists and attend Living Truth Christian Fellowship in Corona, CA where they have taught Jr High studies and where Michelle is involved in the worship ministry. Michelle is also a homeschooling parent and an aspiring author of contemporary Christian fiction. She loves coffee, peanut butter M&M's, and new eyeshadow. Her blog hosts weekly Story Improvs, where readers are encouraged to jump in and add to the plot. Above all, she is a follower of Christ Jesus, unashamed to stand upon the Word of God from beginning to end.

Michelle, I love your blog's sub-header. It says "Follow my journey toward publication. Laugh, cry, point and stare-- it's all good. I'll leave a trail so that you, my fellow author, may have a straighter path to finding your own elusive publishing contract. Adventure awaits. Let's travel together..." 

Like they say in court, you've opened up a line of questioning. So! 
Regarding laughter...
Every time I watch Forget Paris, I laugh hysterically over Ellen driving down the road with a pigeon stuck to her head. Which movie makes you laugh hardest? 
Michelle: Wow. This was tough because I don't belly-laugh often enough at all. But one movie that comes to mind is Meet The Parents. Some might be offended because there is some inappropriateness in there, but I can't help it. It's funny! There are so many quotes that get me going. Greg's prayer at the dinner table for one: "and we thank you oh sweet sweet Lord of Hosts...for the ...smorgasboard you have so aptly lain at our table this day and each by day by day...".  LOL, I'm laughing just remembering all the hysterical lines from that movie!

You have me laughing, too! Visualizing Greg milking a cat... LOL
Regarding tears...
You and I are women. We're allowed to cry anytime, anywhere. It's our prerogative. I cried yesterday at the sight of traffic stopping for children exiting a school bus. It's a touching scene--the world coming to a halt to protect our little ones. When was the last time you cried, and what was it over?
Michelle: It is a touching scene! (Thank you! I feel better now.) I cry all the time. Seriously. Usually nobody is around to see but I probably shed at least a couple tears nearly every day. I often cry when I am in prayer for my children. When eternity breaks through the here and now and the only request left in me is please, God, bring my children into the Kingdom. But I also cry over physical weaknesses, regrets, longings, and even Disney movies. In elementary school I bawled over the movie Annie and begged my mom to adopt some orphans. Today I teared up watching a scene from Mulan (when she resolves to take her father's place in war), and my eyes stung listening to pianist Yiruma's Kiss The Rain for the first time.

Raise your hand if you teared up during that little speech! Must move on to happier thoughts before I drip on the keyboard.
Regarding pointing and staring...
Our lives are so much more exposed now with Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and all the rest. It seems we can hardly say or do anything privately any more, which can be a blessing. And a curse. What's the funniest social networking faux pas you've committed to date?
Michelle: This was hard too. (Great questions, April!) The closest thing would be when a secular writer I know posted about her new release on Facebook. She had some trouble with Amazon tagging because of the somewhat offensive cover image and turned to her FB friends for input on its appropriateness. I commented with a gentle opinion on why I thought Amazon might have tagged it the way they did, hoping to speak for the conservatives out there without being abrasive. What I hadn't considered, was that by commenting, her book image would appear on my wall in my "recent activities" and moments later my MOM left a scathing comment below mine asking why on earth I was posting this image. I messaged her privately to adamantly explain that I wasn't the poster, I was weighing in on the matter. I deleted my comment and told my mom she should do the same because obviously it was then going to be on her wall too. Oy vey! Lucky for me, the incident was small-scale and rather private. I suppose I've gotten off easy so far. But it's never easy being "caught" by Mom.

That's too funny! Mom's are great at catching us with our hands in the cookie jar, no matter our age! 
Tell us about that trail you're leaving for other writers. What was the last thing you posted about on Fiction Fridays?
Michelle: I've always posted things I learn and experiences I gain whether that's contest feedback, craft techniques, social networking (alot of that with COTT), or opportunities to pursue. I sometimes use Fiction Fridays for hosting Story Improvs where readers get involved and write a story together one line at a time. Last week I posted an update on where I've been and what I expect in 2012 and I ended with a story prompt. This one is a little different than the Improvs. In this one, I challenged readers to take the prompt and expand it on their own blog, then send me the link. I don't know how many will join the challenge and play the game, but it would be fun to see what different authors do with the same prompt. Wanna play? You can check it out right now:

Oh! Sounds like fun. Y'all make sure you head over there and jump in on the action. You've been with COTT since the beginning as a vital staff member, but looking through the eyes of a reader/voter (which you also are!), which part of COTT do you enjoy the most?
Michelle: I'd have to say I most enjoy getting that slice of a story I've often never heard of, and then getting to hear how it came together from the author. It's more personal and more focused than scanning amazon for sample chapters. And I can vote! Most of us love having a say in things and I'm no exception, lol. Being able to interact with the authors of the books I'm voting for makes me feel like I'm stepping into an elite circle of friends and as a reader, that's huge.

I heartily agree! Thanks, Michelle, for being so gracious to open your world to us for a little peek. It's been a blast! And now you must excuse me while I go dig through my DVDs for Meet the Parents. LOL
Michelle: April, thank you so much for this opportunity. I value your friendship and admire your work so much. I'm truly honored to be a part of Clash of the Titles.

We couldn't do it without ya!

Readers, do you have a question for Michelle? And don't forget, you can still comment on the Almost Kiss clash going on right now at Clash of the Titles!

His Princess Love Letters from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd

{A great book for Valentine's Day} His Princess Love Letters from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd

Book Description:  This beautiful four-color book opens the eyes of women to see themselves the way God sees them. Many don't even know that they are daughters of the King - chosen to be His Princess. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, they trade in their fairy-tale dreams of being cherished for a tarnished identity fashioned by their own insecurities and the mixed-up messages of the media. Now, these tenderly adoring letters written from God's persepective demonstrate that every woman is beautiful just the way she is. Walking in confidence toward her God-given purpose, every woman can bless others - even future generations.

It's hard to look at our lives and think of ourselves as royalty. But the truth is, God is our King and wer are chosen by Him. As your soul soaks in these love letters from your King, be affirmed of who you are, why you are here, and how much you are loved.

My Review: His Princess Love Letters from Your King by Sheri Rose Shepherd is a lovely book that encourages and creates a facet of understanding between God the Father and His "princess."  
Page 56 of this faith building book states, "My Princess . . . Fill your home with peace."  Then Sheri expounds on page 57 what filling your home with peace means, "My princess, you must first learn to let Me build in you a place of peace and contentment."  This was a simply WOW moment for me!  For I want our home to be a place of peace, so I must fully trust the Father to create His peace in me, first.  Loved this passage for it spoke volumes to me!!
This book is chock full of words to His princess.  A priceless treasure, a woman of beauty from the inside out....a jewel of great price that is what being His princess is all about!
This is one of those books that makes a fantastic gift. Because every woman deserves to know that she is a gift and that she is loved!
Need a faith lifter?  Need encouragement?  Want to know more about His gift to you?  Then this is the book for you!  
*This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing*
Meet the Author: 

Best-selling Author, Speaker, Teacher, Humorist
Sheri Rose has a very refreshing way of bringing the Word of God to life. She knows how to renew the Eternal Hope in our hearts. Her speaking style is humorous, heartwarming and inspires every one to make their life count for eternity. Sheri Rose is a woman who can relate to almost any woman's battle. This former Mrs. United States grew up in a dysfunctional home and was severely overweight as a teen. As a young woman, she battled depression and an eating disorder. She understands the pain that comes from a broken home and she knows what it means to fight for freedom from your past. In spite of an English teacher telling her she was "born to lose" and a learning disorder--Dyslexia--Sheri Rose has (in God's strength) written best-selling books, founded His Princess Ministries and speaks to tens of thousands each year at churches and women's conferences like the Extraordinary Women Tour.Her Joy for the Lord, humorous heart-warming stories mixed with truth and transparency renews our Faith by reminding us how much we are truly loved and adored by our Father in heaven. Once you heard Sheri Rose speak you will never again doubt that you are..."God's Chosen Princess"... here for a divine purpose!
She lives in Southern California with her husband of 22 years and their daughter.

Monday, February 13, 2012

FREE KINDLE EBOOK until the 14th:

click above link

A Life of Joy {Kauffman Amish Bakery Series #4} by Amy Clipston

Book Description:  Eighteen-year-old Lindsay Bedford is struggling to figure out where she belongs. In the Amish community of Bird-in-Hand? Or in the English world like her older sister? Returning for an extended visit to her hometown in Virginia, Lindsay must reconnect with old friends, face family pressures, and take some surprising turns before she can truly find her way home.

My Review:  I've had the pleasure to read, The Kaufman Bakery Series 
by Amy Clipston.  It's one of my favorite Amish series!
If you've read books 1,2, & 3 then you know that Lindsay Bedford and her sister moved to Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania, after the their parents were killed in a car accident and are now living with her aunt, Rebecca and her family.
Now that Lindsay is eighteen she must decide if she should join the church {the Amish church, that is}.  Like many older teenagers, Lindsay, struggles with the what and how of her life.  She loves her family and doesn't mind the Amish way of life.  But is this life really for her?
Before she has to make a decision, Lindsay is asked by her parents best friends, the McCabe's, to come back to Virginia to help care for Trisha after she breaks her leg.  
After leaving Bird-In-Hand and living with all the modern conveniences, Lindsay realizes where she belongs.
Amy Clipston writes an excellent, smooth flowing story that makes the reader feel Lindsay's struggles and her triumphs.  This is not a run.of.the.mill Amish story. Oh!No!  This story has many delightful surprises!  
*This book was provided for review by Zondervan *

Meet the Author:
Amy Clipston is a first-time author and member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She holds a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time as a public information specialist for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband and two sons. 

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031031996X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310319962

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Beauty for Ashes Hickory Ridge Series #2 by Dorothy Love

Book Description:  She's a beautiful young widow. He's a charming Charleston gentleman with a notorious past. Both need a place to call home.
After years of mourning the death of her young husband and longing for a family of her own, Carrie Daly has promised to wed bookstore owner Nate Chastain. But questions about his true feelings for her cause her to hesitate.
After years of mourning the death of her young husband and longing for a family of her own, Carrie Daly has promised to wed bookstore owner Nate Chastain. But questions about his true feelings for her cause her to hesitate.
Charlestonian Griffin Rutledge, scion of a low country rice planter, former blockade runner, gambler, and horseman, arrives in Hickory Ridge to collect an old debt before heading off to try his luck in Australia. Estranged from his family for years, Griff is a loner and likes it that way. Offered the opportunity to train a magnificent Thoroughbred for the local banker, he settles down . . . temporarily. But a chance meeting with Carrie triggers a chain of events that causes him to question his choices. Maybe God brought him to Hickory Ridge-and to Carrie-for a reason.

My Review:  I loved Beyond All Measure the first book in this series. Even though this is a series the books are stand alone.  The books are centered around a town, Hickory Ridge, Tennessee.  
Beauty for Ashes is somewhat like Little House On the Prairie for adults.  God's provision and grace are two of the key elements in this read.
Carrie is a likable person and being a widow in a Hickory Ridge where single men are scarce makes it hard for Carrie. Since women were expected to marry and it would have been hard to be woman and work in this town.  A challenge that brings out the heart in Carrie.
There are two special men, Nate and Grif, that seem interested in Carrie.  Of course, this is a great romance read... but there are twists and turns making this a grand-tastic read!
Don't miss this next great read in the Hickory Ridge Series!
*This book was provided by BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishing*
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595549013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595549013

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Tomato Tortellini Soup

When I'm looking for a great recipe I go to Taste of Home and this is where I found this wonderful recipe!  "Souper" for this cold weather!


  • 1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) reduced-sodium condensed tomato soup, undiluted
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Additional shredded Parmesan cheese, optional


  • Cook tortellini according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the soup, broth, milk, cream, tomatoes and seasonings. Heat through, stirring frequently. Drain tortellini; carefully add to soup. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle each serving with additional cheese if desired. Yield: 10 servings (2-1/2 quarts).