Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sisterchicks Do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn

Book Description:  Some dreams take a while before they come true. Best friends Hope and Laurie never made it to Hawaii during their college years. But when they're about to turn forty, the islands still beckon, and off they go - with an unexpected stowaway on board (Hope happens to be seven months pregnant). A little pineapple, a little sunshine, and a surprising little surfing lesson give these two sisterchicks all their crazy hearts could hope for - and more - as they enter the next season of their lives with a splash and with a beautiful vision of what God has dreamed up for them.

Wherever there’s chocolate, there’s sure to be a sisterchick celebrating, and this trip to Hawaii is no exception. Best friends Hope and Laurie are on an audacious mission to commemorate their fortieth birthdays in style. Surfing and sailing, sushi and snorkeling—these two macadamia nuts from the mainland sample it all, unhindered by a surprise little stowaway. 

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!
I've always dreamed of visiting Hawaii.  The blue, blue water; the sandy beaches and maybe, just maybe, doing the hula! 
But now is not the time for me to go to Hawaii so I read Sisterchicks Do the Hula instead (the book covers have been redone).  And, yes, it was a far better adventure than I could have ever dreamed up!
Hope and Laurie are best friends and both are about celebrate their 40th birthdays.  
Laurie has the money, Hope is the stay-at-home mom but yet when Laurie comes to talk with Hope all the years disappear and it's like they're back in college together.  
Laurie has decided that she and Hope need to go to Hawaii together.  Hope wants to go but isn't sure she should leave her husband and boys at home...the two are urged to go and off they go adventuring!
I LOVE, LOVE this book!  An easy read with all kinds of priceless nuggets of God's Word intermingled into the delightful story!
Need a vacation but can't go right now?  Grab this book and go adventuring!  You'll be glad you did!

Story Behind the Book:
We lived in Hawai’i when our son was in elementary school and have returned many times for visits. I have a deep and abiding love for all that is Hawaiian so of course the islands were my location of choice for this second Sisterchick novel. The art of hula is an intricate form of storytelling has gone through many changes over the years. Every woman’s life has a story. Every woman goes through many changes over the years. But not every woman has yet learned to "hula". This book will encourage her to "hula" through life as she learns to live out her story with the unforced rhythm of grace.

*This book was provided for review by Multnomah Publishers*

      • Paperback: 280 pages
      • Publisher: Multnomah Publishers (December 30, 2003)
      • Language: English
      • ISBN-10: 1590522265
      • ISBN-13: 978-1590522264

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Cheeseburger Soup

Cheeseburger soup from Pinterest is oh!so!Yummy!

Cheeseburger Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This soup is insanely delicious! Made with fresh ingredients and topped with shredded cheese, you will make it again and again!
  • ½ pound ground beef (use 1 pound)
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots
  • ¾ cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups peeled and diced potatoes
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of Velveeta processed cheese cubed (I used 16 ounce)
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  1. Brown the ground beef in 3 quart saucepan. Drain and set aside.
  2. In the same saucepan add 1 T butter and add onion, shredded carrots, parsley flakes, basil and celery. Saute until tender.
  3. Add the broth, potatoes and beef and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  4. In small skillet melt remaining butter (3 T) and add the flour. Cook and stir for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
  5. Stir in the cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat and blend in sour cream.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

{B & B Media} Unlimited (A Novel) by Davis Bunn

Book Description:  Simon Orwell is a brilliant student whose life has taken a series of wrong turns. At the point of giving up on his dreams, he gets a call from an old professor who has discovered a breakthrough in a device that would create unlimited energy, and he needs Simon's help.
But once he crosses the border, nothing goes as the young man planned. The professor has been killed and Simon is assaulted and nearly killed by members of a powerful drug cartel. Now he must take refuge in the only place that will help him, a local orphanage. There, Simon meets Harold Finch, the orphanage proprietor who walked away from a lucrative career with NASA and consulting Fortune 500 companies to serve a higher cause. With Harold's help, Simon sets out on a quest to uncover who killed the professor and why. In due time, he will discover secrets to both the worldchanging device and his own unlimited potential.

My Thoughts:  I'm SO excited because Davis Bunn has written another novel!  Davis Bunn writes a fantastic novel in Unlimited. It includes the drug cartel and lots and lots of adventure!!
We meet Simon Orwell.  Poor Simon his whole life seems nothing but an endless stream of wrong choices.  But just when Simon is about to give up on his dreams, his old professor calls him about a device he has discovered and he needs Simon's help.  Simon has no idea what this device that creates unlimited energy is worth or that there are those who will seek for it.
Of course, Simon wants to help but is this more than Simon bargained for?!?  Simon is nearly killed by whom he guesses is the drug cartel.  Battered and bruised Simon seeks help and Harold Finch is the only one who seems to want to help poor Simon.  Harold Finch runs the local orphanage along with his beautiful sister, Sophie.  Simon learns that Harold has given up quite a career to serve God. 
Simon can trust few people and there are more secrets than a basketful  of weevils.  But Simon perseveres because he is determined to find the killer and he wants to know the "why of it all."  
The "why of it all" is quite interesting!  
An excellent read! Well, honestly, this is probably the best book I've read this summer!
*This book was provided for review by B & B Media*

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books (September 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143367940X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433679407

Monday, August 26, 2013

COTT {Clash of the Titles} Scotland, Food, Romance, God--Four Greats, One Novel. Five Days in Skye.

Didn't manage that Scotland get-away this summer? No worries. You can travel there now, through the pages of Laureano's latest novel, Five Days in Skye.
A recent COTT clash participant, this "delicious" romance is a whirlwind trip you won't want to miss!

Five Days in Skye 
by Carla Laureano


About Five Days in Skye

Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried.
For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.
Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

About the Author

Carla Laureano has held many job titles--professional marketer, small business consultant, and martial arts instructor--but writer is by far her favorite. She currently lives in Denver with her patient husband and two rambunctious sons, who know only that Mom's work involves lots of coffee and talking to imaginary people.
Carla spends her free time hanging out on her blog and social media. Connect with her here:

What People Are Saying

“Five Days in Skye is at turns sweet and scathing, lush and intimate... This story has guts and heart as well as the depth and heat necessary to satisfy any romance reader's palate.” – Serena Chase, USA Today

 “What a delicious discovery! Carla Laureano’s Five Days in Skye swept me away to the Scottish Isles and into the wounded hearts of the impeccably cool Andrea Sullivan and the charismatic charmer Jamie MacDonald. This is a romance to savour from beginning to end. The funny and feisty first interaction between this pair sucks you in and as the story and characters develop you will have no desire to leave as they wrestle with doubts, prejudice, preconceptions, and sparkling attraction. What I loved most was the substance to this story – this is no marshmallow romance – but a love story that is intriguing and real… In a world replete with romantic clichés, Carla’s writing is so very refreshing!” – Rel Mollet, Relz Reviewz
“The storytelling, characters, and setting all served to drag me so deeply into the world of Skye that for days after finishing the book I felt a huge, gaping hole… If you love exotic places, larger-than-life leading men, and romances that warm you to your very core, Five Days in Skye is the perfect getaway for a hot summer afternoon. Prepare yourself to read late into the evening and night as putting down the novel will be next to impossible.” – Elizabeth Olmedo,Radiant Lit
“From the sceneries, to the refined cuisine, every detail of the land is sketched with precision and care, embarking readers on an unforgettable journey that will leave them breathless for more. Laureano not only seems to have a knack for breathing life into a place few of us truly know, but also for breathing life into characters that will take you by the hand and run away with you.”—Amazon reader review
“The setting was inviting and gorgeous. The characters, especially the hero, felt real and had fully-rounded back stories. Of course, there was a lot of chemistry and fun, but I was drawn in by the deeper themes of making peace with the past and trusting God with the future as well.” –Amazon reader review

“While I was reveling in luscious details and having a grand time, Laureano managed to remind me that life is about more than working hard to earn good things. Taking a moment to breathe, to lift your head and appreciate creation, to let go of mistakes you've made and allow people to love you--all these gems are embedded in the pages of Five Days in Skye. You'll come away from this novel refreshed and craving good food, good times and the company of loved ones.” –Amazon reader review

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Critical Pursuit by Janice Cantore

Book Description: Officer Brinna Caruso has built a reputation at the precinct as the cop to call when a child goes missing. For Brinna, it’s personal because she was once one of them. Brinna and her K-9 search and rescue dog, Hero, will stop at nothing to find a missing child, no matter the stakes.

Detective Jack O’Reilly isn’t ready to return to his homicide duties after losing his wife to a drunk driver. He’s on the downside of his career, and bent on revenge, when he’s assigned as Brinna’s partner. While on patrol, Jack struggles between his quest for personal justice and his responsibility to those around him, especially his partner.

Skeptical of Jack’s motives, Brinna isn’t sure she can rely on her new partner, whose reckless abandon endangers those around him. But when a man surfaces with an MO similar to the criminal who abducted Brinna twenty years earlier, Brinna and Jack must cast aside previous judgments and combine efforts to catch the kidnapper and finally allow Brinna the peace stolen from her as a child.

My Thoughts:  The first book I read by Janice Cantore was good but this book Critical Pursuit is an excellent read.
Brinna Caruso was kidnapped as a child and left for dead but she was found.  And ever since that moment Brinna has made it her life's job to rescue all children that go missing...never giving up! 
Now Jack on the other hand is just trying to make it day by day ever since a drunk driver took his beloved wife's life. 
But when the "bad guy"  is on the move again, making it a point to disrupt Brinna's life, Jack comes on the scene.  And when the "bad guy" makes it personal against Brinna, Jack and Brinna join forces to rescue the children.
The suspense of this book is SO nerve racking!  The scenes that are described about the children were sad but every time a child is found it was a hurray! moment!  And learning about K-9  search and rescue dogs was incredible.  Loved Hero!  Brinna's dog partner.
There's just enough romance in this read to make it nice and not a gag factor.
This is a fantastic suspense read!  
*This book was provided by Tyndale Fiction*

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (August 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414375530
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414375533

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Chicken Salad with watermelon and peaches!

Chicken Salad with Watermelon and Peaches

Another great recipe from Reader's Digest:

Chicken Salad with Watermelon and Peaches
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon dried dill leaf or
1 tablespoon fresh snipped juice from a lemon
dash of salt and pepper to taste
2 peaches seeded and chopped
2 cups chopped seeded watermelon
Mix together the chicken, yogurt, mayonnaise, dill and lemon juice.
Makes 4 to 6 Servings.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

{Kregel Blog Tour} The Candle Classic Bible, Retold in 365 Stories

Book Description:  A Bible story for every day—365 of the best-loved Bible stories fully illustrated in a classic style will become favorites for children and parents alike, with each story divided into easy-to-read sections with the day, heading, and Scripture reference. Children are encouraged to spend family time together reading a new story each day.
Old Testament: From the Story of Creation to Isaac, from Joseph to Ruth, from Job to David, from Elisha to the Prophets.
New Testament: From John the Baptist to the story of Jesus, to the story of the Apostles, to John’s Vision of Heaven.

My Thoughts:  This book was quite a surprise . . .  a nice surprise!  I was expecting a soft back, kind of cartoony looking book but instead this is a lovely hardback book with realistic looking "drawings" of biblical characters and sceneries.  
The biblical "stories are short, almost like a novella, a retelling of the Scripture, not the exact Scripture.  However, the retelling does not stray from the Scripture.  The "story" form just makes it easier for kids to read and comprehend.  The Bible reference for each retelling is right below the title of that retelling.
This is a book for older children.  The suggested ages are 8-10 years old but I would extend the ages from 7-12.  Actually any elementary age child that is  reading would probably enjoy this book.
Kids like short, to the point lessons.  And this is one of those books that gives the kids a non-detailed version.  But it would be great for the parent to read the Bible verses to the child or with the child.  
I think this could be a great devotional tool.  
This book would also make a great gift!
We loved the book!  My 13 year old said, "Wow!  Nice book"  Now that's a great compliment from a young teen.
*This book was provided for review by Kregel Publications*
  • Age Range: 8 - 10 years
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Candle Books (July 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1859858678
  • ISBN-13: 978-1859858677

Monday, August 19, 2013

COTT {Clash of the Titles} Stealing the Preacher

Clash of the Titles: Previous Laurel Champ, Karen Witemeyer, Releases Another Bestseller

COTT continues to shine the light on its past winners, including Karen Witemeyer whose novel, "A Tailor-made Bride" won the 2011 Laurel. Today, COTT brings you her latest, "Stealing the Preacher."

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he's forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man's daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he's haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind--a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the parson is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna's outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?

"Stealing the Preacher":

The author shares why she wrote the book:
"After the amazing response to the Archer brothers depicted in Short-Straw Bride, I couldn't wait to craft a stand-alone story for Crockett, the charmer of the Archer clan. First, I had a gang of over-the-hill outlaws steal him from a train then tangled him up with the gang leader's daughter, a heroine with enough sense to look beneath his charm and sufficient spirit to fight for what she wants. Finally, since Crockett is no ordinary preacher, but a gun-toting rancher with a gift for doctoring . . . well, that meant a plot full of scrapes, trouble, and untold shenanigans. But amid the adventure and romance lies a heartrending tale of God's pursuit of a single lost soul." --Karen Witemeyer

About Karen:
After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master's degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid- to late1800s.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden

Book Description: As owner of the 57th Illinois Watch Company, Mollie Knox's future looks bright until the night the legendary Great Chicago Fire destroys her beloved city. With her world crumbling around her, Mollie will do whatever it takes to rebuild in the aftermath of the devastating fire.

Zack Kazmarek, an influential attorney for one of Chicago's finest department stores, is a force to be reckoned with among the city's most powerful citizens. Bold and shrewd, he's accustomed to getting exactly what he wants--until he meets Mollie Knox, the beguiling businesswoman just beyond his reach.In the tumult as the people of Chicago race to rebuild a bigger and better city, Mollie comes face-to-face with the full force of Zack's character and influence. Zack believes this may finally be his chance to win her, but can Mollie ever accept this man and his whirlwind effect on her life, especially with her treasured company on the line?

My Thoughts: I've read everyone of Elizabeth Camden's books and I've not been disappointed yet.  But I must say that Into the Whirlwind is my favorite.
The story begins with the Chicago Fire.  That horrible fire that took almost everything in its path including many a fine establishment such as Mollie's 57th Illinois Watch Company. 
Six days earlier Zach (Zachariasz Kazmarek)wrote Mollie a note stating that he wanted to meet with her as an attorney.  Mollie is clueless as to the reason and then the Great Fire begins.
Ironically, it's Zach who grabs Mollie's hand and practically saves her from becoming engulfed in the fire. 
Mollie can't cut a head of cabbage but she is one shrewd business woman.  
The relationship between Mollie and Zach is tense but with the all that they've been through together can Mollie trust Zach in this whirlwind?
A wonderful historical story that will make the reader feel almost as if she has gone through this terrible time in history.
*This book was provided for review by Bethany House*
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (August 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764210246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764210242

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday} Blue Watermelon Walnut Salad YUM!

Blue Watermelon Walnut Salad

I found this recipe in Reader's Digest and yes!
Blue Watermelon Walnut Saladthis salad can become an addiction!


1 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 cups inexpensive basalmic vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 sprig fresh rosemary
4 ounces fresh baby greens
2 oranges seedless, peeled and sectioned
4 cups seedless watermelon cubes
2 cups seedless grapes, halved
2 cups fresh, trimmed and sliced strawberries
1 cup crumbled blue cheese


Heat the walnuts in a seasoned wok or heavy non-stick sauté pan over medium for a minute and stir in the sugar and soy sauce. Adjust heat to prevent burning while constantly stirring the nuts until the sugar melts. Continue to stir and cook until the nuts begin to stick and the mixture is getting sticky. Spread the nuts over a sheet of waxed or parchment paper and cool. Break apart into small pieces and crumble. Set aside.

Heat the vinegar in a heavy non-corrosive saucepan over medium heat and stir in sugar. Continue to stir and adjust heat to bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the rosemary sprig to the pan. Continue to simmer until the contents of the pan reduces by 1/2 its original volume. Set aside.

Divide the greens among 6 or 8 salad plates and arrange the orange sections, watermelon, grapes and strawberries over the greens. Drizzle the balsamic syrup over the fruit and the cheese crumbles over that. Top with the candied walnut pieces and serve.

Serves 6 to 8.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

{Kregel Blog Tour} Death Be Not Proud (The Secret Journal) by C.F. Dunn

Book Description:  Following the vicious attack by a psychotic colleague, and reeling from the suspicion that Matthew Lynes is not all that he seems, Professor Emma D’Eresby flees her college teaching position in Maine to her hometown in England— taking the mysterious seventeenth-century journal she stole from the college’s archives with her.
Broken physically and emotionally, Emma drifts until, fearing for their daughter’s sanity, her parents invite a family friend to assess her. In the course of their conversation, Emma discovers that he spoke to Matthew over thirty years before.
This finally spurs her into action and soon, when she finds what certainly must be a reference to Matthew in the journal, she begins to understand Matthew’s profound secret.
But when Matthew arrives to confess his love for her, she must decide if she can trust him—and he must decide if he can share his extraordinary secret with her. Drawn by a deep connection that both feel but don’t quite understand they find they must set aside their doubts and trust each other.
Readers will be thrilled by the second installment in The Secret of the Journal from British author C. F. Dunn. Mixing suspense, romance, and the supernatural, Death Be Not Proud explores the profound moral implications of a life seemingly invulnerable to time.

My Thoughts:  Every once in awhile a reader takes a chance on an author she's never heard of before and low and behold she's hooked!  This is the case with me.  I read Mortal Fire (the first book in this series) by C. F. Dunn and loved it!  I'm always a little taken aback when I read a book by a new author and love it!  Silly.isn'  It's kind of like always eating the same foods and then loving something new?!?!?
Anyway, I love the book cover of Death Be Not Proud.  It reminds me of how perfect we think our mirrored lives are and then we find a crack.
I was slightly disappointed in the ending to Mortal Fire.  But didn't say so because the book was so well written.  Now I know why Ms. Dunn left the ending as she did.  It is continued in Death Be Not Proud.
As with the first book . . . this read has a well thought out plot and wonderful descriptions of England.
The relationship between Emma and Matthew is somewhat disconcerting.  I really want Emma to let go of this guy. And what is the secret that he holds so close?
As Emma delves into her family history she finds out more than, maybe, she wanted to know.  
More than an interesting read this is a fantabulous, well written story full of emotion, suspense, history and family ties.  
I thought Mortal Fire was great but Book 2, Death Be Not Proud, is even better!
*This book was provided for review by Kregel Publications*
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Lion Fiction (July 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782640347
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782640349