Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Favorite Reads from 2012!

I have SO many favorites reads from 2012!  But I have narrowed my list down to 5! As you can tell I love the suspense/mystery genre!
 If you haven't read these books yet maybe you can read one or all of them in 2013.              
Happy reading!
So, what is your favorite book from 2012?

Book Description:  Tessa Lancaster worked for her uncle in the Japanese mafia until she was sent to prison for a murder she didn't commit. Now, after finding God behind bars, she takes odd jobs as a bodyguard to keep her distance from the family business. In A Dangerous Stage, the second book in Camy Tang's Protection for Hire series, Tessa gets caught up in the web of lies surrounding a shady singing competition. Hired by one of the contestants, she works with Charles Britton---the lawyer who sent her to prison---to discover the dark figures manipulating the contest from behind the scenes. Tessa's abilities will be tested like never before as she's forced to balance the safety of her client's family and her deepening relationship with Charles. In the midst of the chaos, she holds on to her faith to keep her safe and bring down the shadowy organization.

Book Description:  They came on a mission of mercy, but now they’re in a fight for their lives.
High schooler Will Peterson and three friends journeyed to Central America to help rebuild a school. In a poor, secluded mountain village, they won the hearts of the local people with their energy and kindness.
But in one sudden moment, everything went horribly wrong. A revolution swept the country. Now, guns and terror are everywhere—and Americans are being targeted as the first to die.
Will and his friends have got to get out fast. But streets full of killers . . . hills patrolled by armies . . . and a jungle rife with danger stand between them and the border. Their one hope of escape lies with a veteran warrior who has lost his faith and may betray them at any moment. Their one dream is to reach freedom and safety and home.
If they can just survive.

Book Description:  When Marshall Becker arrives in Lamorlaye, France, to begin the massive renovation of a Renaissance-era castle, he unearths a dark World War II history few in the village remember. The project that was meant to provide an escape for Becker instead becomes a gripping glimpse into the human drama that unfolded during the Nazi occupation and seems to live on in midnight disturbances and bizarre acts of vandalism.

Book Description:  Tragedy strikes on the opening night of the Fall Crafters Fair when a woman is killed in the parking lot of Daisy's Quilt Shop, and the only material witness is one of Melinda Byer's boys. The investigation takes a more bizarre turn when detective Shane Black becomes convinced the killer was actually after Callie. This time it's a madman loose in the largest crowd of the year, and he's looking for something or someone. If they can't figure out what, one of Deborah and Callie's close circle of friends may be next. Masked identities, antique quilts with hidden messages, an Amish boy whose handicap makes him stronger, one brave dog, and a possible hidden treasure ... this time it's nonstop action, danger, and a dash of romance.

Book Description:  After the FBI suspends her for bending its rules, Special Agent Raleigh Harmon is looking for a chance to redeem her career and re-start her life.
Sent undercover to a thoroughbred horse track, Raleigh takes on a double life to find out who's fixing the races. But when horses start dying and then her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger-and more sinister-is ruining Emerald Meadows.
She's never felt more alone.
Her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy who seems to jump from antagonistic to genuine friend depending on the time of day. And she can't turn to her family for support. They're off-limits while she's undercover, and her mother isn't speaking to her anyway, having been confined to a mental hospital following a psychotic breakdown. Adding insult to her isolation, Raleigh's fiance wants them to begin their life together-now-precisely when she's been ordered not to be herself.
With just days left before the season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who's behind the track's trouble, all the while trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiance will make things better-or worse.
Raleigh is walking through the darkest night she's faced, searching for a place where the stars shine bright.

And my favorite DVD for this year is:

This is a GREAT family DVD!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Secretly Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter

Book Description:  Summer, fall, winter, spring—Smitten, Vermont, is the place for love . . . and mystery!
There’s a secret in Grandma Rose’s attic—a forgotten set of dog tags belonging to her first love. But David Hutchins was killed in action and never returned to Smitten. How did the dog tags end up in the attic?
The mystery intrigues Rose’s three granddaughters—Tess, Clare, and Zoe—and they decide to investigate, though their mother, Anna, warns against meddling. But as the seasons turn and the mystery unravels, the three young women and their mother encounter some intriguing mystery men of their own. Has a sixty-year-old puzzle sparked something new for this close-knit family of women?
Join popular romance novelists—and real-life BFFs—Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter for four delightful intertwined tales of mystery and sweet intrigue.

My Thoughts:  What do you get when four real life Best Friends for Life write a book together?!?  The reader gets one delightful book with four great novellas that reads like one book!
Secretly Smitten, the sequel to Smitten,  is like a "valentine" to me.  Four stories of love and faith mixed with a lighthearted fun!  Just the kind of read that one needs to lift the dreary days of winter!
"LOVE BETWEEN THE LINES" Colleen Coble writes a mystery with a twist in Love Between the Lines.  Tess and Ryan seem to be opposites but with his attic full of clues and her mystery skills they make for a sweet team.
"MAKE ME A MATCH" Kristin Billerbeck pens a fun novella in Make Me a Match. A fun play on words as the fire department action comes to Zoe's Cupid Shop where Zoe plays match maker but where will Cupid's arrow land?
"KNIT ONE, LOVE TWO" Diann Hunt gives the reader a glimpse of Sit `n Knit shop owned by Anna (divorced mom of 3 single adult girls).  A revealed secret causes tempers to fly.  This novella makes for a fun read with a lot of mother daughter interaction.
"LOVE BLOOMS" Denise Hunter writes a novella about nursery manager Clare and one hunk.a.hunk of a man, Ethan. With secrets, mystery and love this read makes for a GREAT Valentine's gift!
*This book was provided by BookSneeze/Thomas Nelson Publishing*
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140168713X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401687137

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Weight Watcher Taco Soup

It's after the holiday season and time to lose a few extra pounds...So, here's another GREAT recipe from Pinterest!
Weight Watchers Taco Soup recipe
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey breast
1 (15 ounce) can stewed tomatoes (any flavor)
1 (15 ounce) can stewed tomatoes (Mexican flavor)
1 large onion (chopped)
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1 1/4 ounce) package hidden valley ranch dressing mix
1 (15 ounce) can hot chili beans
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn

1. Brown the the meat and onions and drain.
2. Mix the taco seasoning mix and ranch dressing mix into the meat.
3. Add all the other ingredients, without draining.
4. Simmer for about 1 hour.
5. Serve hot, topped with sour cream, cheese, avocado, raw onions, or nacho chips (optional).
Servings: 10
Nutritional information for one serving:
WW points: 4
WW points plus: 6
Calories: 239

Monday, December 24, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012


Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
♪ Let every heart prepare Him room,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven and nature sing,
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

Book Description:  Can mysterious matchmaking booksellers bring two lonely hearts together in time for Christmas?
In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. Searching for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick. And the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.
Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they’ve decided to bring together. 
This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers’ best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?

  My Review:  I so enjoy Christmas reads and this read has become a favorite of mine!  I chose this book partially because of the cover.  I love the book cover.  It depicts the "specialness" of the season.  The two ball tickets on the front with glowing lights in the background is a beautiful sight, makes one feel that as you open the book you are entering the story.
I was hooked from page one of this book.  The story of Cora and then meeting Simon and his sweet, loving family was like meeting friends.  
Cora has quite a few issues from her childhood but Simon, who also happens to be Cora's boss, has a sweet, kind family.  Simon and Cora have worked in the same office for over five years but neither has met the other until the fateful day they both go shopping for a book at a quaint bookstore on Sage Street.  Both Cora and Simon are secretly given tickets to the Wizard's Ball in their books.  And this is the part of the story that was so real and cute...Simon's loving, Down's Syndrome sister hears Simon telling about the ball and insists that she will attend.  Simon who can't tell her no is caught up in the preparations for the ball . .  .  And this is where the story really begins.
It's a mystery how Simon and Cora meet and then how their paths cross, how they are caught up in the Christmas Ball preparations and best of all the mystery of how it will all work out?
I love the quote on page 224 as Simon tells Cora, "The Christmas spirit is giving what you already have, not going out to find something to buy . . . . The gift is a symbol of respect, love, honor. And that's what you have."
This read has a "tinge of mystic" to it.  Nothing evil or bad.  Just makes one think about the usage of terms we use now.  The Wizard's Ball (maybe a "bad" connotation to some) is simply older gentlemen who give an extravagant ball for those who are less fortunate (wizard is actually someone who is older and wiser).  
I absolutely loved, loved this read!  It was like eating a snicker doodle cookie.  Wonderfully light with a hint of cinnamon.  
This is definitely a fictional, feel good light read that's just right for the holidays!  If you enjoy a 10 star read with a wonderful cast of characters and a truly Christian view of people and our Savior's birth then you'll want to read "Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball."
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307458997
  • ASIN: B0078Y05RY
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} That Pink Stuff

Mr. Food call this "That Pink Stuff!"
Some others call it Cherry Salad.
I call it "YUM!"
It's SO GOOD that I could eat the WHOLE bowl!

1 can (24 oz.) of cherry pie filling 
can (14 oz) of Sweetened Condensed Milk 
1 can  (8 oz) of Crushed Pineapple 
2/3 bag Mini Marshmallows 
1 cup Chopped Pecans (optional)        
16-24 oz Cool Whip 

First, completely drain the crushed pineapple. 
{The more juice you drain the better or else it will cause separation.}
Next combine all the ingredients except the cool whip and the cherry pie filling. 
Make sure to mix well. 
Then fold in the cherry pie filling and then fold in the Cool Whip. {Fold, because you don't want to crush all the cherries, and you don't want to flatten the cool whip.}
Refrigerate at least two hours...overnight is best.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cott {Clash of the Titles}

October New Releases Winner Announced!

The Winner of our October New Releases Clash is:

A Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes

A hearty congratulations to Laurie Alice!

We had a tremendous response for this Clash. So many said they wanted to vote for and loved all of the books. A special thanks to the other authors for their wonderful books and for being a part of this week. 

Shattered Silence by Margaret Daley
A Merry Little Christmas by Anita Higman
Callie’s Mountain by Katt Anderson
Murder in Marietta by Deborah Malone

About A Flight of Fancy

Her head is in the clouds. His feet are planted firmly on the ground. Can love cover the distance?
Cassandra Bainbridge may be a bit of a bluestocking, but when Geoffrey Giles is near, love seems a fine alternative to passion for Greek and the physics of flight. With his dashing good looks and undying devotion to her, the Earl of Whittaker sets Cassandra’s heart racing with his very presence. It seems his only flaw is his distaste for ballooning, the obsession that consumes so much of her thoughts.

When a terrible accident compels her to end her betrothal, Cassandra heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broken heart. With time on her hands and good friends to help her, she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut. But when Lord Whittaker slips back into her life, she finds her heart torn between her love for flight and her abiding love for the man she fears will no longer want her once he knows of her hidden scars.

What Voters Had to Say about A Flight of Fancy

I love Laurie Alice's deft use of craft and I love her spunky (though not anachronistic!) heroines.

Fabulous read of a passionate couple. Well done. Laurie Alice Eakes

All the books sound great, but I've read Flight of Fancy, and it's a wonderful story.

Title is adorable. Very creative.

Keep writing! I love reading and love your books.

Love this book! It's one of Eakes's best.

Every book I've ever read by Laurie Alice Eakes, I've loved.

Great Review for A Flight of Fancy
Romantic Times
Four Stars

“Eakes has a charming way of making her novels come to life without being over the 
top. The second Daughters of Bainbridge House story has romance, mystery, 
suspense and characters who transcend the stereotype of stiff English formality. …”

Endorsements for A Flight of Fancy
“Eakes seamlessly blends romance and intrigue, faith and history, into a story that readers won’t want to put down.”—Booklist

“Masquerades, English manners, romance, and intrigue abound in this historical series. Regency romance aficionados and fans of Nicole Jordan will adore this.”—Library Journal

“Eakes weaves the fine silk threads of historical richness, dangerous intrigue, and forbidden romance into a flawless literary tapestry . . . that will leave readers breathless.”—Louise M. Gouge, award-winning author ofAt the Captain’s Command

About Laurie Alice Eakes

Bestselling, award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes used to lie in bed as a child telling herself stories so she didn’t wake anyone else up. Sometimes she shared her stories with others; thus, when she decided to be a writer, she surprised no one. Family Guardian, her first book,  won the National Readers Choice Award for Best Regency in 2007. In the past three years, she has sold six books to Baker/Revell, five of which are set during the Regency time period, five books to Barbour Publishing, as well as two novellas to Barbour Publishing and one to Baker/Revell. Seven of her books have been picked up by Thorndike Press for large print publication, and Lady in the Mist, her first book with Revell, was chosen for hardcover publication with Crossings Bookclub. She also teaches on-line writing courses and enjoys a speaking ministry that takes her from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast.
Laurie Alice lives in Texas with her husband, two dogs and two cats, and is learning how to make tamales.

Buy Links for A Flight of Fancy

Barnes and Noble
Family Christian
Books A Million

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Dangerous Stage {Protection for Hire} by Camy Tang

Book Description:  Tessa Lancaster worked for her uncle in the Japanese mafia until she was sent to prison for a murder she didn't commit. Now, after finding God behind bars, she takes odd jobs as a bodyguard to keep her distance from the family business. In A Dangerous Stage, the second book in Camy Tang's Protection for Hire series, Tessa gets caught up in the web of lies surrounding a shady singing competition. Hired by one of the contestants, she works with Charles Britton---the lawyer who sent her to prison---to discover the dark figures manipulating the contest from behind the scenes. Tessa's abilities will be tested like never before as she's forced to balance the safety of her client's family and her deepening relationship with Charles. In the midst of the chaos, she holds on to her faith to keep her safe and bring down the shadowy organization.

My Thoughts:  I loved the first book in this series Protection for Hire.  Now A Dangerous Stage is, again, about Tessa, but enter the lawyer, Charles Britton.  Charles is the lawyer who sent Tessa to prison (for a crime she didn't commit).  
Tessa's faith is tried, for it seems that lies abound everywhere she turns after she is hired by one of the contestants to delve into a shady singing competition.
Now, I REALLY love Camy Tang's books because they have a lot of action mixed with mounds of faith!  Camy isn't preachy but she gets the point across.  A lot like Tessa who lives her faith!
Tessa is one tough lady but she has a soft center just like a wonderful chocolate, caramel truffle but that tough exterior makes her seem like an iron maiden.   
I wasn't sure about Charles...can a "wimpy" lawyer truly help a feisty lady like Tessa?!  Will Charles really stand "tough?"  These were a couple of questions I had when Tessa meets up with Charles.
I must say that I enjoyed A Dangerous Stage even more than I enjoyed reading Protection for Hire.
One doesn't need to read Protection for Hire before reading A Dangerous Stage but reading the first book will help in understanding Tessa and her mafia family.
This is one great read!
*This book was provided for review by Zondervan Publishing*
  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; Original edition (October 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310320348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310320340

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Homemade Lattes/coffee

Someone {sorry, I'm not sure who} posted this on Pinterest 
It's like a wonderful Christmas present for ME!
Now, I can make my favorite coffees at home!
May your coffee cup always be full!

Drink recipes

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012

    Sisterchicks in Gondolas by Robin Jones Gunn

    Book Description:  Sisterchicks Take the Boot! (and we don’t mean shoe thievery) 

    Jenna and Sue have been sisters-in-law for nearly thirty years but inseparable friends for only the last five. When Jenna is invited to a week’s stay at a fifteenth century restored palace on a quiet canal in Venice , Sue is her travel companion of choice. The catch? They must cook for a group that is staying at the palace for a retreat. It’s the first time Sue has been this far from home, and both women are coming out of a valley season of life where they operated each day in long shadow s of fear. Entering into the lilting gondola-paced Italian lifestyle and discovering corners of Venice most tourists never see, they welcome a new time of refreshing. And over boiling pots of pasta, they dare each other to dream again. 
    Ciao bella! 
    SISTERCHICK n.: a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you’re being a brat. 
    When Jenna is invited to Venice for a week of cooking for a small retreat group, she knows just who to take along: her sister-in-law Sue. With her Dallas drawl and wild tangle of red hair, Sue desperately needs her own retreat from the pressures of the past two years…and blessedly for their guests, Sue actually knows how to cook (unlike Jenna)! With about six words of Italian between them, a map, and a keen appetite for gelato, they puzzle out the lovely city together. During their stay, Jenna and Sue become victims of grace in ways they never expected—starting with their accommodations: a restored fifteenth-century palace on a quiet canal complete with a stairwell perfect for mattress sledding! Coming out of a time of dark shadows in their lives, these two friends dive into a new season of refreshing and realize that sometimes when serving God, the most important thing to do is just show up…and watch for goodness and mercy to follow close behind. Come join Jenna and Sue over boiling pots of pasta in this lilting gondola-paced adventure! 

    My Thoughts: I love...I mean ABSOLUTELY LOVE! the Sisterchick adventures!
    I've read them all because once you've read about the Sisterchick adventures you just can't wait to go another Sisterchick adventure!
    In case you're new to these fabulous reads, you must first know the meaning of a sisterchick:  SISTERCHICK n.: a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you’re being a brat. 
    Don't you just LOVE that definition!
    Now, Sisterchicks in Gondolas isn't quite like the other adventures. First of all, Jenna and Sue are sister-in-laws as well as best friends.  And secondly, Jenna is asked to serve men who are missionaries.  
    Jenna asks Sue to go on this trip and off they "adventure."
    When Jenna and Sue first arrive at "the grand palace" they are amazed at the beauty and the wondrous staircase.  They each pick a fabulous bedroom to sleep in that first night but when the missionary men begin arriving Jenna and Sue realize that there are just enough bedrooms for the men.  No bedrooms for them!  They are quite disappointed but being industrious and imaginative women they discover extra bedding in the hall closet and decided to sleep under the stars on the fabulous roof that is more like an extra garden room instead of a roof.
    Sue and Jenna realize what a wonderful adventure God has given them and they serve Him with a willing heart.
    I love the escapade that they have on the wondrous staircase!  
    This is one sweet, graceful read!  A must read for the woman with a servant's heart!

    Story Behind the Book
    Sisterchicks in Gondolas was birthed after Robin experienced Italy for herself. “In the summer of 2004, I went to Venice with my lifetime fellow Sisterchick from Ireland , Ruby,” she says. “We explored the city with our daughters and discovered the joys of Italian living.” With a splash of humor, grace, and a few zany antics, this latest Sisterchicks release continues to celebrate the unique and timeless bond between women friends. Entertaining and delightful, the story also challenges readers to examine their relationships with one another and with God.

    *This book was provided for review by Multnomah Publishers*

      • Paperback: 304 pages
      • Publisher: Multnomah Publishers (May 1, 2006)
      • Language: English
      • ISBN-10: 1590525051
      • ISBN-13: 978-1590525050