Wednesday, January 29, 2020

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

We love this cake:


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

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup Coca Cola (plus 2-3 Tbsp. additional if needed)
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate syrup


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

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

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Fire In Ember by DiAnn Mills

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

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

Monday, January 27, 2020

Lightkeeper's Ball (A Mercy Falls Novel) by Colleen Coble

Book Description:  This Mercy Falls novel has romance, mystery, secrets and a bad guy. Coble wows the reader with a fresh storyline. Readers will enjoy peeling back the layers and discovering this is more than your average romance book. The characters are strong not only in themselves but also in their faith. 4 stars. --Romantic Times

Coble spins a tangled web in this third book in the Mercy Falls series (after The Lightkeeper's Bride), with red herrings and oodles of duplicity. -- Publishers Weekly

My Review:  The Lightkeeper's Ball by Colleen Coble is the third book in the Mercy Falls series.  Although this is a series each book is stand alone read.  
Olivia has strong suspicions that her sister's death is foul play because her sister was deathly afraid of water!  So, why would she commit suicide using water or why would she be swimming?  Olivia decides she will investigate this case herself!  And find the truth of her sister's death.
Olivia's search brings suspense, mystery and romance!  This read also has some great history included in the story---Haley's Comet in 1920, bloomers, and the suffragette cause.
If truth is to prevail then half-truths or omissions can cause trauma.  Olivia finds that omitting truth can cause a good deal of grief!  Olivia is stressed by the omission of truth and it plagues her throughout the story.  A great lesson for us all.
After an attempt on her life, Olivia, is housed in the lighthouse.  Then a storm strikes.  and Olivia decides to have a Lightkeeper's Ball to replace all that was lost in the storm.
This read is full of how our actions and behavior can make or break us in life.  Also, if one of our close relatives passed away would we know that relative well enough to know the truth or fiction of what others tell us about said relative?  
A!  Colleen Coble outdid herself in this third Mercy Falls book!

About the Author:

I'm a reading addict. I'll read anything: cereal boxes, flyers, toilet paper bags. I grew up on Nancy Drew so I still love reading things that have some mystery or suspense in them, but romance is always at the heart of my books.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Collateral Damage (Danger Never Sleeps) by Lynette Eason

Book Description:  Honorably discharged from the Army after an explosion nearly killed her, former military psychiatrist Brooke Adams has set up shop to help others--but her days of helping military personnel are over. She's got her own battles to fight from her time overseas, and she's not equipped to take on more. Former Army Special Ops Sergeant First Class Asher James could handle anything that war sent his way--terrorists, bombs, bullets. The only thing that scares him now is sleep. As the shadows close in, the nightmares begin.
Finally convinced that he needs help, Asher makes an appointment with a counselor, and Brooke is pressed by her boss to take him on. When he arrives at her office she isn't there--but a dead body is. Brooke is devastated when she walks in, and Asher is a conveniently strong shoulder to cry on. But she can't take him on as a client after sharing such an intimate and unprofessional moment, can she? And he's not sure he can handle sharing his deepest fears with such a beautiful woman.

My Thoughts:  The subtitle to this story Danger Never Sleeps pretty much sums up Brooke Adams life after her near death incident in the army.  
It sees that Brooke is being set up for a murder rap when she walks into her office to find Asher James there with a dead body.
Of course, after she cries on his shoulder she can't take him on as a client.  As a counselor Brooke is to be above and not so emotional especially with a client.  Even though she can't take Asher James as a client she feels a strong pull toward him to help him.
And Asher James needs a counselor but how can he tell such a beautiful woman all his fears and disappointments.
I loved the fast paced story of both Brooke and Asher as they come to real life grips on their pasts and face the definite prospects of a beautiful future.
Of course, I love stories penned by Lynette Eason and this one didn't disappoint.

*This book was provided for review by Baker Publishing*

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Controlling Interest by Elizabeth White

Book Description:  THERE'S TROUBLE IN RIVER CITY Matt Hogan's Memphis detective agency has been on the skids since a recent attack of conscience cost him an important case. When a wealthy investor steps in and saves River City Investigations, Matt thinks all his prayers have been answered—until he finds out that with the investor comes a new partner. Fresh out of criminal justice school and a two-year stint in the Tunica County Sheriff's Department, Natalie Tubberville is out to prove she can cut it in the world of private investigations. But her reluctant partner is just as determined to have nothing to do with her—until Natalie makes him an offer he can’t refuse! If Matt solves the next case before she does, she will return her share of the company. And the race is on. As two strong personalities compete, mutual attraction grows…while a simple case of a runaway bride threatens to become an international incident. Will Matt and Natalie call off the competition—or discover an entirely new arrangement? 

My Review:  Natalie Tubberville is determined to make it on her own without her dad's money.  After her dad buys an Memphis Detective Agency, Natalie is going to prove her investigative skills to all.
Matt Hogan hasn't had much luck with his clients lately.  His last client turned out to be a crook which hurt his pride and his pocketbook.  So, he feels that he has no other alternative than to accept Eddie Tubberville's offer to finance his detective Agency even with the stipulation that Eddie's naive, wanna be daughter is to be his partner.
When Natalie and Matt have their first case together it turns out o be anything but fun!  Their first case, Yasmine Patel, has decided to run her own life and choose the man she will marry and now Yasmine is running for her life! Her fiance wasn't the upstanding man she thought him to be so now she is running scared.  She has asked Natalie and Matt to help her get out of this mess. 
This turns out to be a mess of an escapade for all involved! 
This in a great, fast read!  I love the story line!  Toss in unusual relatives, Yasmine's disappearance and a romance of two individuals. All the characters are well rounded and fun to read about!

Monday, January 20, 2020

90 Days of God's Goodness Devotional by Randy Alcorn

Book Description:  Daily Assurance in the Face of Life’s Hardest Struggles

When life throws challenges at us, our view of God’s presence can become cloudy. If God is good, why is there so much evil and suffering? In times of hardship, it’s easy to lose sight of God’s purpose, goodness, and love. 

90 Days of God’s Goodness helps disperse the fog—little by little, discovery by discovery, day by day. Through these thoughtful, inspiring devotional readings, bestselling author Randy Alcorn brings clarity to the question of God’s goodness. 

For anyone who’s ever suffered, or shared in a loved one’s suffering…or for anyone who’s ever been painfully distressed by the prevalent evil in this world…90 Days of God’s Goodness opens a wide door to healing and the reassurance of a God whose love we can count on and always turn to.

My Review:  90 Days of God's Goodness by Randy Alcorn is another great devotional with daily reflections that shine light on personal darkness.
Best selling author, Randy Alcorn, offers his unique insights on the ups and downs of life.  
This nice, hardback book includes 90 devotionals with thoughtful mediations that will help one to see and recognize the wonderful works of God.
At times life throws us challenges.  Some times those challenges can lead us to a dark maybe depressive place; however, this devotional challenges us to rely  on the One who created us for a specific reason.
Chapter 6, Suffering Is No Accident, is one of my favorite chapters.  The chapter begins with Psalm 34:11-19, then a short devotional, and lastly a prayer to go with the devotional.  Each devotional is roughly two to three pages long and each devotional brings a thought provoking idea for the reader.
This is a great 5 star devotional for those going through a rough time or simply a devotional for those who want to draw closer to the Lord in times of learning.  This read would also make a great "Get Well Card" for someone who is learning to trust the Savior!
As Randy Alcorn tells us, "God is in charge."  What a grand thought!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

Okay!!! This may be a new favorite for me....YUM!

Active time 20 Min.
Total Time 45 Min.
Serves 4

Chopped apples and celery with walnuts.  Grapes (roasted in this version).  To lighten things up, fresh greens are tossed in, and a lemon vinaigrette replaces the mayonnaise dressing.

For the roasted grapes:
1 1/2 pounds red seedless grapes
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the Dressing:
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced crosswise, plus 1/2 cup leaves
1 head frisee (this is Endive), trimmed
1 Honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1. Roast the grapes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss grapes with sugar and oil. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet until just starting to wrinkle and burst, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool.
2. Meanwhile, make the dressing: Combine shallot, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, and cumin in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Make the salad: Toss grapes (without pan juices) with sliced celery and leaves, frisee, apple and walnuts. Drizzle salad with dressing, and toss to coat.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

FALSE WITNESS by Randy Singer

Book Description:  Clark Shealy is a bail bondsman with the ultimate bounty on the line: his wife’s life. He has forty-eight hours to find an Indian professor in possession of the Abacus Algorithm–an equation so powerful it could crack all Internet encryption. Four years later, law student Jamie Brock is working in legal aid when a routine case takes a vicious twist: she and two colleagues learn that their clients, members of the witness protection program, are accused of defrauding the government and have the encrypted algorithm in their possession. After a life-changing trip to the professor’s church in India, the couple also has the key to decode it. Now they’re on the run from federal agents and the Chinese mafia, who will do anything to get the algorithm. Caught in the middle, Jamie and her friends must protect their clients if they want to survive long enough to graduate.

My Review:  Not having read any books by Randy Singer I wasn't sure what to expect.  I can
only say, "WOW!", "INCREDIBLE!"  How did he come up with THIS story?  I know he tells
us at the very first of this read on the Author's Note page how he came up with this story but
REALLY this story is INCREIDBLE!                                                                                  
In researching Randy Singer I found out that this book,  False Witness,  was originally published on June 28, 2007.  Because of the many recent historical events and advances in technology, the author believed it was necessary to make substantial changes; therefore,  False Witness  is a Christian version of the best James Bond movie and John Grisham novel all rolled into one book.   Since I didn't read the first book I don't know what changes were made in this 2011 copy.
I've been longing for a great not run.of.the.mill or mundane thriller/suspense book.  So, to be honest when I received this book to review I thought the cover looked...well, boring!  Was I ever wrong!
From the first page I was taken into a world of algorithms (a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps, as for finding the greatest common divisor). This whole story centers around a professor who has found the key to unlocking ALL encryptions in the computer world. This means whoever holds this algorithm holds the key to unlocking billions of dollars from peoples accounts all over the world-simply by logging into the internet.  INCREDIBLE! (is this really made up?!?!).
As one continues on into the read we are introduced at a VERY fast pace to Clark Shealy (bail bondsman) and his lovely wife, Jessica.  I like Clark because he has heart!  He truly doesn't like hurting people but he also has a very strong desire for justice to be served.
Then enter the Xu...not a likable fellow.  
Xu wants Professor Kumari who now is the only living soul who knows the algorithm.  Jessica is captured by Xu's men and kept as the ransom until Clark delivers Kumari.
There is MUCH action, some torture, little romance and probably one of the BEST thrillers I have ever read!
Learning about India, the intricate world of the web, and how true justice is served are probably the top three things I gleaned from this read!
If you love a a thriller that leaves your heart pounding and an ending that just.can' then this the read for you!  INCREDIBLE!

About the Author:
Randy Singer is a critically acclaimed author and veteran trial attorney. He has penned nine legal thrillers, including his award-winning debut novel "Directed Verdict." In addition to his law practice and writing, Randy serves as a teaching pastor for Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He calls it his "Jekyll and Hyde thing"--part lawyer, part pastor. He also teaches classes in advocacy and ethics at Regent Law School and serves on the school's Board of Visitors. He and his wife, Rhonda, live in Virginia Beach. They have two grown children. Visit his Web site at

Monday, January 13, 2020

The Chocolate Diaries: Secrets for a Sweeter Journey on the Rocky Road of Life by Karen Scalf Linamen

Book Description:  Ready to Make Some Sweet Changes?

Karen Linamen dishes up a satisfying blend of moxie and mocha, sharing stories from dozens of women who reveal savvy strategies for embracing a sweeter life—even while traveling rocky roads. If you’re hungry for more joy, reasons to laugh again, ideas to help you heal, and reliable hope leading to a sweeter future, this journey will leave you satisfied.
 Funny, transparent, and uplifting, The Chocolate Diaries is like taking a road trip with good friends who are wise about life. And while you’re at it, indulge (just a little) in the quirky recipes for concocting chocolate delights out of whatever ingredients you can round up in your kitch. The road may still be bumpy, but you’ll be having too much fun to care.

My Review:  Anything that has to do with chocolate must be good!  The Chocolate Diaries is definitely "Secrets for a Sweeter Journey on the Rocky Road of Life." (actually this is the subtitle on the front of the book).  
Most women relate to chocolate....we love dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate truffles, chocolate coffee cream (well, this is my personal favorite) and the list  goes on.  So much chocolate so little time <smile>
Now in The Chocolate Diaries the author, Karen Linamen, shares stories about her family, relationships with other women and how other women have overcome struggles....all involve chocolate! 
One of my favorite chapters is entitled, Sweet Secrets, Because Real Women Don’t Need a Cookbook.  And on page 94 there is a recipe for Fab Fondue~Chocolate, of course!  It's sweet and easy to make in your crockpot!  Then you dip your favorite fruits in this wonderful fondue!  
This is one of those reads that will make your life journey sweeter.  You'll feel that the author is your friend because many of the situations that she talks about are things we all can relate to.  Karen gives sage advice about life and brings us tips on how to deal with these life situations.
My favorite quote from this great read is, "When we're traveling the rocky roads of life, sometimes we need endurance for the long haul ahead.  Sometimes we need healing for whatever it is we've just come through.  Sometimes we need compasses to make sense of the crazy terrain we have to negotiate."  And then right across the page is the recipe for a French Twist:  Slice a croissant in half, fill with chocolate chips, microwave about 20 seconds and viola! instant indulgence! 
Loved this book!  A great-tastic 5 star!

Read the first chapter HERE! 
About the Author:
No stranger to good chocolate, Karen Scalf Linamen is a popular speaker and the author of fifteen books for women, including Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt and Chocolatherapy: Satisfying the Deepest Cravings of Your Inner Chick. Karen writes, entertains, cooks, and pursues the sweet life with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

12 oz. shredded cooked chicken breast
2 cans white beans (Navy beans), drained &amp; rinsed and slightly mashed
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 (6 oz) containers of Greek plain yogurt
1 tbsp. garlic, minced
3/4 cups cucumber, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
Salt and pepper

Mix everything but the tomato together and mix together.  Fold in tomatoes and serve with tortillas and lettuce.

Monday, January 6, 2020

The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister

Book Description:  Russian refugee Bannister (1927–2004) rarely spoke about her brutal experiences under the regimes of Stalin and Hitler, not even to the American she married after the war. In this memoir, she reveals how a privileged childhood in the 1920s and '30s gave way to horror and loss in the 1940s. Although the sound quality of this production is poor (lots of rustling papers), Rebecca Gallagher does reasonably well with the multiple languages and wisely avoids attempting to replicate European accents. What is irritating, however, is the constant interruption in the form of unnecessary editor's notes, which make the narrative choppy and disjointed. More helpful is the seventh disc, which contains an interview with Bannister's husband and son, a precious audio reminiscence from Nonna herself, recorded in 1993, and abundant PDF materials, including maps, photographs and genealogical data. 

My Review: I love to read books that "talk" about World War II.  I really wanted to read this book but put it off for a couple of weeks simply because I was afraid of the sadness that comes with reading about WWII.
However, once I began this read I simply couldn't put it down!  
I like the way the book begins.  It begins with an introduction unlike any other....Nonna has written many diaries and has not told a soul, including her husband and children, what she wrote of her childhood and family.  Maybe, the memories were too painful and speaking of them would bring the pain of all that had transpired?
Nonna tells her husband of fifty years that now is the time and takes him to their attic where she has hidden her hand written diaries from so many years ago.  Now, she tells, him is the time for him to know the past.
And that is what this read is all about.  A time when Hitler and his goons crawled upon the face of the earth.  A time when people betrayed their neighbors simply out of fear, a time when faith was all one could cling to and a time of lost.
At times I simply had to put the book down...too much emotion, too many loves lost, and way too much sadness.
This is a great 5 star read not for the faint of heart but for the heart that seeks truth.  Nonna tells of her family, their struggles and of her own pilgrimage to make it out of the darkness.
Thanks, Nonna!  For being courageous and leaving a legacy for us to follow!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year Readers!  

Inspire us for this new year.  
Leave a comment telling us what new books you're reading this year.

Friday, January 3, 2020

The English Son: The Amish Millionaire by Wanda E. Brunstetter (Author), Jean Brunstetter (Author)

Book Description:  Meet businessman Joel Byler who has gotten himself into a financial bind and his eccentric, wealthy Amish father who is done bailing out his spoiled son. When will Joel learn he most pay for his own mistakes—and at what cost to his business, his fiancĂ©e, and his Amish siblings?

My Thoughts:  I was so excited to receive this new six part serial novel in the mail.
I have been waiting for this mini novel to make it's appearance on the book shelves.  
Joel Byler has decided that he needs to see the world so he decides to leave his Amish roots and go to the city.  
Much like the prodigal son story in the Bible, Joel too squanders his money and is left with nothing. 
He misses his home and wonders if his father would give another cash loan?  
An interesting beginning to the Amish Millionaire serials.  
My only complaint is that the books are only 124 pages long and then it's another month before the next issue.  
Ahhh! the life of a reader.  {smile}
I love this Amish millionaire?!?!?  
To be honest I have never thought about the Amish bering millionaires.  
I guess the Amish didn't need much money because they grow and can everything or build it by themselves.  But being people I realized they have needs outside of the things they can't make, like tennis shoes or carriages. So, I love the way Wanda and Jean have portrayed a different line of thought in Amish life!