Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Food Family Style: Simple and Tasty Recipes for Everyday Life...Review

About the book:
In a time when the family meal is increasingly losing out to music lessons, sports practices, and the general busyness of life, it's time to rediscover the joys of cooking and eating together as a family. Time may be short and budgets may be tight, but these 365 mouthwatering recipes are sure to draw families into the kitchen and around the table day after day. From tasty breakfasts, soups, and salads to sumptuous main dishes and desserts, Food Family Style delivers just what readers' families ordered.

Throughout the book are symbols indicating recipes that double easily, freeze well, are gluten-free or vegetarian, can be made in a slow cooker, and more. And since there's more to mealtime than just the food, this innovative book also includes tips about how to involve kids in meal preparation, meaningful conversation starters, and simple ideas to bring warmth to your home.

I love family friendly cookbooks and this one doesn't disappoint.

The book is organized by category with an index organized by ingredient.  The recipes are easy to follow and family/child friendly with serving sizes listed.  Most use every day ingredients that you have on hand.  There are helpful hints and tips in the margins as well as a chapter on kitchen and pantry essentials and healthy substitutions.

My biggest complaint about any cookbook is when there are no photos.  Having an idea of what the finished recipe looks like is one of the cool things about cooking.  But, aside from that, this is a cookbook that I will keep and use.  I have many, many recipes tagged.

One I can recommend is:

Breakfast Mini Quiches

1 prepared pie crust
8 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup cooked, diced bacon
(I added salt, pepper, a sprinkle of nutmeg and some diced onion)

Preheat oven to 375.  Cut out 6 circles from the pie crust (about 3 inches in diameter) and place in greased muffin cups.  Put muffin tin in refrigerator while you make the filling.  In a bow, beat together eggs, milk, cheese and bacon.  Fill prepared muffin tins and bake  20-25 minutes until puff and slightly brown.  Let cool 3 minutes and remove from tins.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks to Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Leigh Olivier Vickery here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Haven...Review

About the book:
Spring brings new life, young love, and second chances to Stoney Ridge.

On a warm spring day, Sadie Lapp returns home to her quiet, unassertive life in Stoney Ridge after spending the winter in Ohio.

Gideon Smucker, an awkward schoolteacher, has been in love with Sadie since childhood and eagerly awaits her return. But does Sadie feel the same about him?

Will Stoltz, a charming and impetuous college student, has been banished for a semester and sent to babysit endangered peregrine falcons nesting at the Lapp farm. He'd rather be anywhere else . . . until he befriends Sadie.

As the hopes and ambitions of these three young people converge, life in Stoney Ridge may never be the same.

Once again, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher intrigues and delights with a story that explores the bonds of friendship, family, and true love in this captivating series.

When Sadie returns to Stoney Ridge after visiting her sister, she returns home with a baby in a basket and discovers that people would rather gossip that find out the truth.  She meets Will Stoltz a young man who is studying endangered falcons that have begun nesting on the Lapp farm.  At once drawn to Will, Sadie is confused about Gideon Smucker, the school teacher who has always loved her.  When misunderstandings arise and judgments are made, Sadie finds herself wondering where she will find happiness.

While I found myself  frustrated with selfish, gossipy people in Sadie's community, I loved visiting the Lapp family again.  These characters are simply remarkable.  Finding out more about Menno was a fantastic surprise.

First in the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, you can read this first book The Keeper here. After reading The KeeperI was anxious to read Sadie's story in The Haven and it was worth the wait.  I look forward to M.K.'s story next.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Suzanne Woods Fisher here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other reviews and tour stops here.


* * * *
4/5 Stars


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

For Such a Time as This...Review

About the book:
Drought has forced farmers around the small town of Bountiful in the Hope region of Oregon to mortgage their property. Then word comes of plans for a spur line to run through the area and join the railroad in nearby Milton. Folks with money see an opportunity to fill their coffers by buying farmland cheap then selling to the railroad for a profit. The Bank of Bountiful, owned by Eli Whitman, appears to be doing that, as well.

Widowed two years earlier, Eli, with a son and daughter to raise, sought a hard-working, educated Christian woman to care for them and his home. Olivia Moore filled the bill, and as soon as Eli recognized her as an excellent investment, he offered her first employment then a marriage of convenience.

While Olivia is an excellent choice, her large family gives Eli pause. He knows about the problems posed by in-laws, so he will do whatever it takes to avoid a repeat of his earlier experiences.

When Papa tells Olivia the Moore family must move according to Eli's terms for the new railroad line, she fears for their safety, since they'll be homeless during winter. Where will they go? How will they survive?

It is up to Olivia to convince her husband to renege on his demands, though she swore before their marriage she would stay out of his business. 

Loosely based on the premise of Esther in the Old Testament.  I liked it well enough, but I thought Olivia was too perfect.  The whole story was a bit far fetched and I had trouble getting into it.  Fans of Ginny Aiken and historical Christian fiction will undoubtedly enjoy it.  It just wasn't for me.

Thanks to Sarah at FaithWords for the opportunity to review this book.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/12

* *
2/5 Stars

Friday, August 10, 2012

Short-Straw Bride...Review

About the book:
No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?

I wasn't quite sure about the premise to this story as it didn't seem quite plausible, but I was pleasantly surprised.  From the time Travis rescued her as a young girl, Meredith has always been in love with him.  But, the Archers reclusiveness always prevented her from seeing him again.  But, when she overhears a conversation that will put Travis and his family and ranch at risk, Meredith risks her life and reputation to warn him.

Meredith was spunky and strong and the Travis, a charming if reluctant hero.  I enjoyed their relationship and they grew together after a shotgun wedding.  Another delightful story from Karen Witemeyer.  It's light, but enjoyable and a perfect diversion on a warm summer afternoon.

Thanks to Bethany House for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Karen Witemeyer here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lethal Legacy...Review

About the book:
The police say her father's death was suicide. But Kelly Warren says it was murder--and she has new evidence that she believes proves it. Detective Cole Taylor doesn't put much credence in her claim, and nothing in his case review suggests foul play. But when Kelly ends up in the emergency room with a suspicious life-threatening medical condition, the incident strikes him as more than just coincidence. Digging deeper, he discovers she's linked to a long-ago crime. Is history repeating itself? And who wants Kelly silenced?

Kelly Warren knows that her father's death wasn't a suicide, but she can't get anyone to listen.  Detective Cole Warren isn't sure he wants to believe her until she ends up in the ER and he begins to realize that things aren't always coincidental.  Together they embark on a quest to clear her father's name and bring his killer to justice.  Along the way, they discover that life is better when they're a team, but someone is determined to keep them apart and end Kelly's life.

To say I enjoy Irene Hannon's stories is a serious understatement.  I have yet to read one that wasn't fantastic.  She has a remarkable way with characterization and her stories are always thrilling adventures full of that perfect mix of suspense and romance.

Third in the Guardians of Justice series, Irene Hannon doesn't disappoint.   You can read my reviews of Fatal Judgment and Deadly Pursuit here.The story stands alone, but as always, it's a much richer story if the books are read in order.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Thanks Donna Hausler of Baker Publishing for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Irene Hannon here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tidewater Inn...Review

About the book:
Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the seaward shore of Hope Island could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer's talent and love of history. She's delighted to learn of family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she's met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brothers and sisters are convinced she's there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, Libby's under suspicion for the crime, and her handsome lieutenant clearly doubts her innocence.

Libby's dream-come-true is becoming a nightmare. Can she find her friend and establish her innocence? Must she sell Tidewater Inn and lose her family again? Or can she find a home for her heart on the beautiful shores of Hope Island?

When Libby learns that the father she never knew has left her a historical inn on a small island of North Carolina, she is surprised.  As she visits Hope Island, she discovers a brother and sister she never knew about and secrets that present a different view of her father than what she grew up with.  As she tries to assimilate this information, she is also pressured by developers to sell her property.  Her best friend is missing and she must not only discover if Nicole is still alive, but resist the pressure from developers, pressure that includes stalking and attempted murder.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina hold a special place in my heart. So, any chance I have to read a book that is set in that area, I take it.  Tidewater Inn doesn't disappoint.  With well developed characters, this is a compelling story and one that was difficult to put down.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Colleen Coble here. You can purchase your own copy here.  You can see other tour stops and reviews here.

Read 6/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hide and Seek...Review

About the book:
Amelia Lennon no longer wears a uniform or carries a weapon. An Army trained Foreign Affairs Officer, she’s negotiating a dispute with the Kyrgyzstan government that threatens to leave the U.S. without an airbase in that region. She traded her gun for the power of words, but now she needs both.

While following her government contact - Jildiz Oskonbaeva, the lawyer daughter of Kyrgyzstan’s president - Amelia witnesses an attempt to abduct her. She manages to prevent the kidnapping, but now the two women are on the run in a city that’s erupting into chaos.

Master Sergeant J.J. Bartley is the Special Operations team leader tasked to rescue Amelia and Jildiz. With two new members in his unit - one with a secret that could endanger everyone’s life - J.J. must soldier his unit through crazed mobs intent on overthrowing the government. Back home, his pregnant wife is misinformed that her husband and the team have been killed. But before this is over, Bartley will find out that’s the least of his problems.

A believable plot, a strong heroine and courageous heroes who aren't afraid to admit their belief in God.  This was non-stop action and a riveting story. I skimmed over much of the technical military details because I just don't have the understanding, but the book is well written and the authors are definitely writing to their strengths. I tend to avoid thrillers and military stories, but this one sounded interesting and I'm so glad I read it.  I was reminded of the early Jack Ryan novels by Tom Clancy.

Thanks to Rick Roberson of The B&B Media Group and First Wildcard for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Jeff Struecker here and Alton Gansky here.  You can purchase your own copy here.  You can read the first chapter here.

Read 6/12

* * * *
4/5 Stars


Hide and Seek...Wildcard!

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

B&H Books (July 1, 2012)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson, The B&B Media Group, Inc for sending me a review copy.***

Jeff Struecker was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. At age 18, he enlisted the US Army as an infantryman and retired as a Chaplain with over 22 years of active federal service. He currently serves as Associate Pastor of Ministry Development at Calvary Baptist Church in Columbus, GA. Throughout his career Jeff has attended numerous professional military schools and has received many awards and commendations. His combat experience includes participation in Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Iris Gold in Kuwait, Operation Gothic Serpent, in Mogadishu, Somalia, and multiple tours in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jeff holds a Master of Divinity Degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, a Bachelor of Science Degree and Associate of Science Degree from Troy University in Alabama. Jeff and his wife, Dawn, have five children: Aaron, Jacob, Joseph, Abigail and Lydia.
Visit the author's website.

Alton L. Gansky is the author of 23 novels and 7 nonfiction works, as well as principle writer of 7 novels and 2 nonfiction books. He has been a Christie Award finalist (A Ship Possessed) and an Angel Award winner (Terminal Justice). He holds a BA and MA in biblical studies. He lives in central California with his wife.

Visit the author's website.


Amelia Lennon no longer wears a uniform or carries a weapon. An Army trained Foreign Affairs Officer, she's negotiating a dispute with the Kyrgyzstan government that threatens to leave the U.S. without an airbase in that region. She traded her gun for the power of words, but now she needs both. While following her government contact-Jildiz Oskonbaeva, the lawyer daughter of Kyrgyzstan's president-Amelia witnesses an attempt to abduct her. She manages to prevent the kidnapping, but now the two women are on the run in a city that's erupting into chaos.

Master Sergeant J.J. Bartley is the Special Operations team leader tasked to rescue Amelia and Jildiz. With two new members in his unit-one with a secret that could endanger everyone's life-J.J. must soldier his unit through crazed mobs intent on overthrowing the government. Back home, his pregnant wife is misinformed that her husband and the team have been killed. But before this is over, Bartley will find out that's the least of his problems.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: B&H Books (July 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433671425
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433671425

    43.050278°N 74.469444°E
    Transit Center at Manas (formerly Manas Air Base), outside
    Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
    June 6

    The mess hall was deserted. Master Sergeant J.J. Bartley sat alone at a long, well-worn table that had seen thousands of airmen, soldiers, and marines pause from their work long enough to pound down some grub before returning to their duties. On the table rested a chipped plastic coffee cup and two file folders. The expansive room seemed twice the size J.J. remembered the last time he passed through the air base. Of course the room was full of hungry service men then, many headed to Afghanistan. That was Manass primary role over the last decade: the jumping-off spot for troops headed to hostile country.
    As an Army ranger he did two tours of duty in Afghanistan before being hand-selected by Sergeant Major Eric Moyer to be part of a unique spec ops team. He made several other missions into the country as part of that squad, including one he was sure would be his last moment on earth. As it turned out, a pair of F-18s came to the rescue of the six-man unit as they fought off overwhelming numbers of Taliban fighters advanc- ing on their position. The jet jockeys saved their lives by drop- ping a pair of ICM bombs on their location. The (Improved Conventional Munition) bombs exploded fifteen feet above their heads leaving the ground littered with dead Taliban and a ringing in J.J.s ears that took a week to go away.
    That seemed a lifetime ago. Since then, as the sniper and explosives expert for his team, he traveled to a dozen different places on the planet, none of which he was allowed to name and carried out missions he was forbidden to speak about.
    Stare all you want, Boss, but that coffee ain’t going to do any tricks.
    J.J. didn’t have to look up to know Jose Doc Medina was approaching. He raised his gaze anyway and returned the med- ic’s smile. Jose was a solid man with a keen mind, quick humor, and a admirable steadiness. If the sky were to rip in half and a million aliens ships from another dimension appeared ready to take over the world, J.J. was sure Jose would look up and say, Well, look at that. A man doesn’t see that every day. J.J. liked the man for another reason. In addition to his being a superior soldier he also saved J.J.s life after a gun battle. He owed the man several pizza’s for that.
    Hey Doc, where you been?”
    They have a great rec. hall here. I was shooting pool with the Air Force guys. He pulled out a chair and sat.
    All in the name of inter-service fun, no doubt. J.J. lifted his cup. The coffee was cold.
    Of course. You know I believe we should respect all branches of the military, even the inferior, less skilled ones.
    How much?”

    You heard me.
    Jose shrugged. Maybe a couple of twenties.
    “Each. Jose pretended to look guilty. “How many airmen did you fleece?”
    Oh, who keeps track of such things? I was just killing time.
    J.J. narrowed his eyes. Okay, just four. My conscious was beginning to bother me.
    Lucky for them. He put the cup down. Seen Pete and
    Not since Crispin gave his little demonstration. He did a good job. I was impressed and I’ve seen his tech kung-fu in the field. All those itty-bitty surveillance drones were a hit. Left the local tech boys drooling.
    Yeah, I was there, but I haven’t seen them since.
    Do you need them. Ill go round em up.
    Nah. Just as long as theyre front-and-center when the new guys arrive.
    Ah, thats it.
    J.J. cocked his head. Whats it?”
    You look down, Boss, like you’ve lost your favorite girl friend.
    My favorite girlfriend. You know Im married. Tess won’t let me have girlfriends.
    Jose slumped in his chair. Wives are funny that way. My wife won’t let me date either. He paused to let the quip die before establishing a more somber tone. “I miss them too.
    “I didn’t say anything about missing anyone.” “I was listening to your face.
    Sometimes you confuse me, Doc.

    Jose chuckled. You know what they say about Hispanics: were inscrutable.
    “I thought that referred to Asians in old movies.
    Eh, Asians, Hispanics, whatever. Another pause. Youre thinking about Boss and Shaq.
    Theyre home safe and sound. Im not worried about them. Images of the team’s former leader and second-in-com- mand strobed in his mind. Last he saw them, they looked well and happy. He could hardly tell both were severely wounded and the latter lost an eye. Both retired shortly after the mission in eastern Siberia and took jobs with a civilian security firm.
    “I didn’t say you were worried about them. I think youre worried because theyre not here. You went from team mem- ber to Boss in short order. Theres gotta be some psychological whiplash in that.
    Psychological whiplash? They teach you that at Fort Sam Houston?”
    Nope. Medic training taught me many things but not much psychology. Life, on the other hand, has taught me a ton.
    Okay, Doc. Whats eating me?”
    Jose sat up and leaned forward on the table. Nothing bad, Boss. Youre just being human.
    “I don’t think Ill ever get used to being called Boss. Every time someone calls me that I think of Moyer.
    You’ll get the hang of it. Jose paused. “Can we talk like a couple of old buddies?”
    Thats what we are, Jose.
    Well, at least in here. Anyone else walks in this room and
    Ill go back to being formal.
    The corner of J.J.s mouth inched up. You have a formal side?”
    “Im nothing if not a model of Army decorum. He inched closer to the table as if he were about to whisper a secret. His volume remained the same. “Okay, heres how I see it. We are creatures of training. We enlist and start at the lowest rank. Time in service and experience lead to promotions. We have a good idea how thats going to progress. You’ve just been pushed up the ladder faster than expected. The view is different up there.
    So now you’ve be selected to take over for a man we admire and respect. Hes a one in a million. Hes got it all: brains, courage, loyalty, and a soldiers sixth sense. He left under tough circumstances. Nearly lost his daughter to kidnappers trying to sway him in his mission. Took a beating. Nearly died. To hear him tell it, he did die and came back. His cover was blown so his usefulness as field operative was gone and thats all he ever wanted to do.
    He is a great man. Taught me more about soldiering than basic, AIT, and Ranger training combined. A wave of sadness ran over J.J. “I can’t be Eric Moyer, Doc. In my mind, he will always be Boss.
    But hes not J.J. He was team leader. Now youre the man. No one is asking you to be Eric Moyer. The Army—the team—wants you to be you.
    Is that enough?”
    Jose straightened and stared into J.J.s eyes. It is in my book.
    Its not that Im afraid—”
    Youd better be afraid. I don’t trust a man who says hes not afraid. Such men are either liars or lunatics.
    J.J. raised an eyebrow. Really? And which am I?”
    Youre neither. I’ve seen you afraid and you’ve never been braver. You can do this, J.J. I got your six. You know that. Pete danced a jig when he heard of your promotion. At least I think it was a jig. The man has no rhythm.

    J.J. laughed. You got that right. First time I saw him bust a move I thought he was being electrocuted.
    Jose chuckled then the grin evaporated. Seriously J.J., Im proud to follow you into battle. Don’t doubt yourself and don’t doubt us. Besides, if you screw up, Moyer will kick your butt then turn on me for not straightening you out.
    Theres a terrifying thought. J.J. gazed into the black fluid in his cup. More than self doubt was eating at him but he endured all the pep talk he could. Jose seemed to sense it.
    You happy with the new guys?” The medic motioned to the personnel jackets.
    Yeah, as much as I can be. Its hard to judge a man’s char- acter from notes on evaluation forms. Both are experienced and decorated. Seen lots of action, mostly in the last half of Iraq and in the wind down of Afghanistan. Both Rangers. One comes in at the same rank as me: Master Sergeant. Hes got six months on me as well.
    Doesn’t matter, J.J., youre team leader. He’ll know that.
    He’ll also know that I was frocked. I have the extra stripe
    but not the official promotion and pay.
    Its just a matter of time, J.J. You know once theres some head room, you’ll get the full promotion and maybe more. Its all a numbers game. There are scores of soldiers work- ing at a higher rank than the Army is allowed to give them. Functionally, youre the man, and Ill fight with any man who disagrees.
    Youre a pal, but you may want to hold on to the boast for awhile.
    You’ll see.
    The door to the mess hall opened and a skinny airman stepped into the dim space, saw them, then walked to the table. Master Sergeant Bartley. I’ve been asked to tell you the transport plane you’ve been waiting for has touched down. Its pulling to the tarmac now.
    J.J. glanced at the rank insignia on the man’s upper sleeve: one strip and an Air Force star in a circle. Thank you, Airman. I would like to meet the plane. Can you get me there?”
    “I was told to have a vehicle waiting.
    J.J. stood, lifted the cold coffee to his lips and drank. He grimaced.Where did the Air Force learn to make coffee?”
    The young airman remained straight-faced: From the navy.
    Figures. He set the cup down. Gather the team, Doc.