Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Beauty To Die For by Kim Alexis & Mindy Starns Clark

Book Description:  Juliette Taylor walked away from her career as a supermodel twenty-five years ago. Now approaching fifty – an emotionally complex milestone -- she co-owns a beauty supply company that makes skincare products for salons and spas. Her niche is pampering Christian women who usually spend more time caring for others than for themselves under the slogan:Isn’t it time someone took care of YOU for a change? When Juliette arrives at the Palm Grotto Spa to host a spiritual retreat, she runs into an old modeling colleague, Raven, who had always been disliked in the industry for many reasons. She isn’t there for the retreat; in fact, her presence at the spa is somewhat mysterious.Not long after Raven makes a cryptic threat to Juliette, the unsympathetic back-then beauty is found dead, poisoned by something in the green clay of a chai soy wrap. The following morning, a banner for the retreat has been unceremoniously altered:It’s your turn to be nurtured, to be restored . . . to be murdered. Suspicion is directed at Juliette who has history with Raven and certainly knows how to use beauty products. But for murder?! Now she must find the real killer before the police really take care of her.

My Review:  I always enjoy books by Mindy Starns Clark, so was excited to read a mystery about beauty and spas, as well as, christian romance.
Juliette is a likable woman who was once a lonely supermodel.  Juliette now has her own creative line of face cleansers and lotions.  These high end facial products are used at a pricey but lovely spa.
Juliette is on her way to the spa and for a weekend of giving to other women who help others all the time.  But at the airport she meets up with Raven.  Now, Raven, is a diva, a days gone.bye.supermodel, with a bad attitude.  Unfortunately, it seems that Raven is on her way to the same spa as Juliette.
Juliette makes it to the spa as does Raven...only it seems that Raven may have more enemies than friends when she ends up dead after a spa treatment.
This suspense novel starts out great and keeps the reader guessing...who killed Raven and how?
This emotional look into the lives of models and how lonely a super model can be is quite interesting.  The mystery is well written and keeps the reader guessing.  
This is Christian chick lit at its best!
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books (August 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433672936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433672934

Monday, July 30, 2012

COTT...Clash of the Titles

*guest post by Michelle Massaro
At Clash of the Titles, we’re interested in the Christian Fiction that’s making a splash, flying onto the scene in a burst of attention-grabbing technicolor and gripping our imaginations. Every month we’re seeing batches of new stories hit the shelves and here’s one that has also hit our hearts.
Dineen Miller’s The Soul Saver recently competed on our website and garnered a lot of attention there. We just had to know more about this book and its author. Here’s what we discovered…
About Dineen Miller:
 Dineen Miller readily admits that one of the greatest lessons she’s learning about life is that there’s purpose in our trials. It’s all about trusting God and putting our hope in Him. Her favorite stories are of the miracles God has wrought in the lives of her family.
Through this lens she also believes her years as a youth counselor, a Stephen Minister, a women’s ministry leader, and a small group leader fuel her desire to ignite the souls of others through words of truth.
In addition to writing for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Dineen has won several prestigious awards for her fiction, and her devotional writing has been featured in Our Journey and Christian Women Online Magazine. She’s also a C.L.A.S.S. Communicator and has been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Family Life, and Focus on the Family Radio.
Married for 24 years to a guy who keeps her young, she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two adult daughters, who surprise her daily with their own creativity.
She is the co-author of Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage and the author of The Soul Saver.

Q & A with the Author

1. What inspired the story for The Soul Saver?
My own life. I wanted to write a fictionalized account of how God can work in amazing ways in our lives when we trust Him. The Soul Saver is that story—of how Lexie Baltimore desires to love her unbelieving husband in the way God is calling her to and the battles she faces with the enemy because she’s on the front lines praying for the salvation of her husband. I wrote this book for all the Lexies out there, to encourage and remind them that we’re not alone. God is there working in ways we can’t even imagine!
2. A suspense novel in the Christian industry can often be difficult to write. What helped you overcome those obstacles?
Staying true to the message I felt God calling me to write. I attended the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in 2008 and by the end of the week, I left with a clear understanding that God wanted me to write this book. I stayed faithful to that calling and trusted God to find a place for it. Some in the industry either had reservations with the issue of being spiritually mismatched or with Tobias, a demon, who is simply a tool I used to show the spiritual warfare that is common in spiritually mismatched marriages. At one point I wondered if I would have to take him out, but my amazing agent, Rachelle Gardner, encouraged me to hold true to my story and she was right. The right timing and publisher did come along. I will be forever grateful to Barbour Books for giving The Soul Saver a chance.
3. What made you want to write in this specific genre?
I love intricate stories and characters. Suspense wrapped with the supernatural is something I’ve always loved to read. The amazing thing is, we live in a world full of suspense and the supernatural every day. My favorite stories have and always will be of the miraculous, of how God has provided, made His presence known, saved a lost soul because that is what’s really happening around us if we just take the time to notice it. God loves to wow us. I hope I can do a little of that to my readers too. They deserve it.
4. Do you have any future projects going on?
I have a novella coming out in August, A Love Meant to Be, that’s part of a collection titled Rendezvous in Central Park. I have the distinct privilege and honor of writing with Ronie Kendig, MaryLu Tyndall, and Kim Vogel Sawyer, three seasoned and very talented authors. I love this story because it’s a tribute to my father, a Vietnam vet who passed away in 2010. These stories span from the Civil War to WWII to Vietnam to present day conflict in Afghanistan.

About The Soul Saver:

When Trusting God Is the Only Way Out
On an average day, God started her missions in her sculpting studio, revealing the face of the person she would meet at the grocery store, bank, or playground. The goal was always the same. Reach the lost, bring someone back to God, restore hope. But then came the tough missions—the ones that sent Lexie Baltimore into real battle. And she had a few battle scars to show for it.
Tormented that she can’t reach the one person she loves the most—staunch atheist and husband Hugh—Lexie finds her own hope waning when the battle comes to her doorstep in the shape of a pastor who represents everything she wants and everything her husband is not—a godly man.
Then false accusations and rumors spin her husband and family into a precarious position, and the only way out is to trust God. But how can she convince her husband when she’s struggling to trust God herself?
This time Lexie is the mission.
What others are saying:
“Deep, compelling, a beautifully written story of faith, hope, and the saving power of love. Dineen Miller hits home with this debut novel. The Soul Saver will stay with you for days after reading the last page.”
— Tosca Lee, NY Times bestselling author of Havah: The Story of Eve
“When you combine stellar writing, intriguing characters, and a fascinating plot the result is a story like The Soul Saver. It’s the kind of novel I wish I had written.”
— James L. Rubart, bestselling author of ROOMS, Book of Days, and The Chair
Links to purchase The Soul Saver:
*Michelle Massaro is a 2012 Genesis Finalist and Assistant Editor with COTT. She loves to connect, so stop and see her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MichelleMassaroBooks

Thursday, July 26, 2012

THE GUEST BOOK by Marybeth Whalen

Book Description:  When Macy Dillon was five years old her father encouraged her to draw a picture in the guestbook of a Carolina beach house. The next year, Macy returned to discover a drawing by an unidentified little boy on the facing page. Over the next eleven years the children continue to exchange drawings … until tragedy ends visits to the beach house altogether. During her final trip to Sunset, Macy asks her anonymous friend to draw her one last picture and tells him where to hide the guest book in hopes that one day she will return to find it—and him. Twenty-five years after that first picture, Macy is back at Sunset Beach—this time toting a broken family and a hurting heart. One night, alone by the ocean, Macy asks God to help her find the boy she never forgot, the one whose beautiful pictures touched something deep inside of her. Will she ever find him? And if she does, will the guestbook unite them or merely be the relic of a lost childhood?

My Review:  THE GUEST BOOK by Marybeth Whalen is a summer read...well, it's set in beach house/beach front setting.  Actually, it can be read any time of the year but sometimes it's so nice to read a story that actually coincides with the season.
Macy Dillon is an artist.  When she was five she left a picture in the guest book of a Carolina beach house.  The next year when her family returned there was a drawing left on the facing page by an unidentified buy.  So, for the next eleven years Macy and "the boy" leave each other pictures until tragedy ends her visits to the beach house!  Macy frantically scribbles a note to the boy on her last day at the beach house, "You can hide the guest book under the loose floorboard in the closet of the room I've come to think of as mine..."
An then twenty-five years later Macy takes her own little broken family to the same Sunset Beach.  
Macy's faith is failing.  She has made some mistakes. She is raising a sweet child, Emma, whose father left when Emma was born.  Her job seems so dead end and she feels empty.  And then she and her mom decide to go back to the beach house where their family shared so many good times.
Macy wants Emma to experience the good times of the beach house, too, but she truly has hopes the "boy" who exchanged pictures with her all those years just might be there too.  
An interesting Christian romance with true ups and downs of life.  Life isn't perfect but God can bring it all together when you trust in Him.
*This book was provided by Zondervan*
*I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*
Meet the Author: 
  • Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and mom of six children. The family lives outside Charlotte, NC. Marybeth is the author of the novels "The Mailbox," "She Makes It Look Easy" and the upcoming "The Guest Book". She also serves as director of She Reads, an online book club focused on spotlighting the best in women's fiction. Marybeth spends most of her time in the grocery store but occasionally escapes long enough to scribble some words. She's always at work on her next novel. You can find her online at www.marybethwhalen.com.

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310334748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310334743

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Asian Chicken Salad

Salads are wonderful meals in the hot summer.  
Saw this recipe on We Are That Family blog and wanted to share another great meal idea!
Asian Chicken Summer Salad
1 large bag of cole slaw
1 bag of roasted almonds (salad topper)
1 bottle of Asian salad dressing (we use Ginger Sesame or whatever we can find)
1 bag of tortilla strips (optional, but yummy)
Chopped leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken added.
Mix it all together, serve cold.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

{Blogging Bistro Blog Tour} Hidden In Dreams by Davis Bunn

Book Description: It’s not about understanding the prophecy. It’s about outliving it.
Dr. Elena Burroughs’s life is spiraling out of control. Her controversial stance on dream interpretation has cost her a job, a romance, and all credibility in academic circles. Her literary agent tries to leverage the outcry into a publicity tour, which soon attracts a quirky following. Among the skeptics and mystics is a condescending scientist. But Elena finds his research holds ominous parallels with her own. A certain dream pattern has foretold every major catastrophe stretching back to the dawn of civilization. And now this dream is repeating itself in countless nightmares across the globe.
Elena is confronted with a harrowing realization: the clock is ticking down to a cataclysmic financial collapse. Her desperation mounts as the prediction infiltrates her own dreams. Will this scientist become an unlikely ally—and maybe something more? Could an ancient biblical secret about the power of dreams and visions offer them an escape?

My Review: Having read Book of Dreams by Davis Bunn I was anxious to read about Dr. Elena in Hidden in Dreams.
I must say that Hidden in Dreams truly captivated me and I read spell bound for hours!  
I liked Book of Dreams but Oh!My! Hidden in Dreams is an incredible read!  So real! So true to life! And so pertinent to today's headlines!
One wouldn't have to read the first book, Book of Dreams, to read Hidden in Dreams, but I would highly suggest that you read these two books in order.  Why?  Because Book of Dreams gives the background information, the why of what Dr. Elena does, and one comes to know her friends/colleagues....which is important to the references made in Hidden in Dreams.  
Dr. Elena Burrough's is a strong woman who stands by her beliefs.  In Hidden in Dreams she seems to be a firm believer and her faith doesn't waiver.  She has done much research on dreams but when a few people all over the world begin having the same dream and about the same thing-world financial disaster-she begins to delve into this unknown world.  Low and behold!  She begins to have the same dreams.  This opens up a whole new world.  She is asked to appear on TV and give her view point of this dream world as the banking system all over the world begins to crumble.  Then something "triggers" Dr. Elena's senses and as she delves deeper into this dream world she senses that something "unusual" is happening....this is the mystery of it all!  
One can't help but guess and assume as one reads this book but the ending to this incredible story was not what I was expecting!  
Dr. Elena likes Jacob (from the first book) but he is unkind and harsh.  Now Jacob is back and with an apology and he wants to help Elena.  She gracefully accepts but it is really Dr. Reed the president of the college where she teaches who prays with Elena and helps her.  Jacob is a mere boy compared to the integrity and maturity of Dr. Reed.  
The ADHD drug and its effects is a sideline to this fantastic story.  An intriguing,thought provoking read about drugs and the dream world!
Loved, loved this book! 
*This book was provided by Howard Books*
*I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*
Youtube Trailer for Hidden In Dreams 
Read Chapter One HERE!
About the Author:

Davis Bunn is the author of over nineteen national bestsellers, and his books have sold over six million copies in sixteen languages. The recipient of three Christy Awards, Bunn currently serves as writer-in-residence at Oxford University.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Orphan King: Book 1 in the Merlin's Immortals series by Sigmund Brouwer

Book Description:  The future of the Immortals is in the hands of an orphan.
 My greatest fear was that they would find us and make of us a sacrifice beneath a full moon. Now you, Thomas, must help us destroy the circle of evil. The last words of a dying woman would change the life of young Thomas. Raised behind monastery walls, he knows nothing of his mysterious past or imminent destiny. But now, in the heart of medieval England, a darkness threatens to strangle truth. An ancient order tightens their ghostly grip on power, creating fear and exiling those who would oppose them. Thomas is determined fulfill his calling and bring light into the mysterious world of the Druids and leaves the monastery on an important quest. Thomas quickly finds himself in unfamiliar territory, as he must put his faith in unusual companions—a cryptic knight, a child thief, and the beautiful, silent woman whom may not be all she seems.  From the solitary life of an orphan, Thomas now finds himself tangled in the roots of both comradery and suspicion. Can he trust those who would join his battle…or will his fears force him to go on alone?

My Review:  I've been reading "out of my genres" for the past two weeks.  Why?  Because I believe that every once in awhile one needs to read other types of genres to bring a broader scope to one's life.
It's like eating fruits and vegetables all the time...yes, they're good and good for you but one must have a bite or two of chocolate to make life sweeter!  The same is said of books.
Sigmund Brouwer pens an unusual story in the Orphan King.  There are medieval kings, queens, and subjects along with the poor uneducated peoples.
Now, Thomas has lived all his young life behind the thick, corrupted walls of the monastery.  Then one day a dying woman tells Thomas that he must destroy the circle of evil before it kills him and all the people.  
Thomas secretly leaves the monastery only to find a mysterious and somewhat "hardened" people.
Actually, I got so involved in the story that I didn't want Thomas to leave the monastery...stay safely behind thick walls, fight from within...From the title I thought I knew what what going to happen...dread!  But this interesting story takes on a persona all its own and no!  it didn't play out anything like I thought it would. (Don't you just love when a book isn't predictable!?).
Thomas meets up with some unlikely companions...a cryptic knight, a child thief, and a beautiful but silent woman.  Who is on his side and whom can he trust?
"Enter a medieval world of love and chivalry, of ancient secrets, an evil conspiracy, noble knights, and a mysterious castle called Magnus..."  (taken from the very beginning of the book).
This is a fast read that has been written in a flowing style.  Reading about ancient times, complete with castles and moats, makes for a fantastic read!
Book 2, Fortress of Mist, will be available in February of 2013!
*This book was provided for review by 
Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing*

  • Reading level: Ages 12 and up
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (July 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400071542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400071548

Friday, July 20, 2012

Beauty for Ashes!

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair 
*lyrics by Crystal Lewis

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Annie's Truth by Beth Shriver

Book Description:  After learning the truth about who she really is, can this prodigal daughter be accepted back into the safety and security of home?
Annie Beiler seems to have it all—a loving family in a tight-knit Amish community and the affections of an attractive and respected young man. But when she learns that she was adopted after being found as an abandoned newborn, she sets out on a journey to find out who she is.
Her father is strongly against her decision to leave, as it could mean Meidung, or excommunication from the community and even her family. But Annie knows she must find “the path that has her heart.”
As Annie’s search brings her into the fast-paced world of modern life, she is confronted with all of the temptations she was warned of. Can she make her way back to the order and security of her family? Or will she remain an outsider—torn between her two worlds?

My Review:  This is the first book in the Touch of Grace by Beth Shriver.  I was excited to read this book since it is Amish fiction and a mystery!  
Annie Beiler is a blessed young lady who seems to have.it.all!  A loving family surrounds her with faith, laughter and friends. Until she and her sister receive permission to go through her mother's hope chest where Annie discovers her childhood Bible.  After unwrapping it she opens it up and notices that only her mother and birth date are penned in.  After questioning her parents  Annie discovers that she is, in fact, adopted.  This discovery, well, kind of turns her world upside down!
Katie wants to leave and seek her "real" family.  Her Amish daad is dead.set.against this idea...afraid that Annie will be disappointed AND excommunicated from the only world she's ever known.
Annie's Truth is aptly titled for it is only a truth that Annie must seek and the choices she must make for herself!
This is not your "usual" Amish read.  The subject of adoption in the Amish community is the core of this read...the mystery of finding out where one truly belongs and how the life of the family truly filtrates into a child's everyday, growing up years.  
If you enjoy a good, clean mystery that is about the true love and friendship then don't miss the wonderful read!
*This book was provided by Charisma Media*
Meet the Author: 
Beth Shriver received a degree in social work and psychology from the University of Nebraska. She worked as a caseworker for Boulder County Department of Social Services before starting a family. Beth and her husband, two children, along with two cats, a beagle, and a fish named Fish live in Texas after moving from their first home in Colorado. She freelances for the local papers in her area and writes columns, devotionals for magazines, and novels in a variety of genres in both fiction and nonfiction.

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Realms (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161638607X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616386078

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} S'more Kisses, please!

No fire needed...just a few minutes of heat... a sweet s'more kisses recipe from Hershey's Kitchen!

Skill Level:
Prep Time:
5 Minutes


  • Small pretzels(twisted)
  • Miniature marshmallows

  • HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.

  2. Place one pretzel for each pretzel s'more desired on prepared sheet. Top each pretzel with 3 marshmallows and another pretzel.

  3. Bake 4 to 5 minutes or until marshmallows soften and begin to puff. Remove from oven and gently press chocolate on each top pretzel. Allow treats to sit several minutes in order for chocolate pieces to melt enough to adhere to pretzels and to soften slightly. Treats are best if eaten while chocolate piece is still soft.