Wednesday, August 29, 2012

House of Mercy by Erin Healy

House of Mercy is the fourth solo effort by the fabulous Erin Healy, and while I didn't quite pick up on all of the symbolism in her earlier books (a fact that my friends teased me about because they got it!), I did get most of it in this one. What begins as an innocent story quickly spirals downward as one bad decision ruins everything that Beth clings to. This story clearly shows the damage that one sin can have and the lives that it touches in the process. Fascinating and heartbreaking at the same time.

This is one that I didn't want to put down. The only thing I didn't like was that I thought the ending was too abrupt. I'd like to know more about what happens next. I'm hoping the author will continue Beth's story.

**possible spoiler warning**

I'd like to know what happens to the ranch. If the saddle is ever found. What happens to Cat. And I'd like to know the rest of the blossoming love story.

Those questions remain unanswered in my mind.

Other than that, I loved the book!

From the back cover:
When Beth's whole world fall apart, can she ever be whole again?

Beth has a gift of healing--which is why she wants to become a vet and help her family fun their fifth-generation cattle ranch. Her father's dream of helping men in trouble and giving them a second chance is her dream too. But it only takes one foolish decision to destroy it all.

Beth scrambles to redeem her mistake, pleading with God for help, even as a mystery complicates her life. The repercussions grow more unbearable--a lawsuit, death, a divided family, and the looming loss of everything she cares about. Beth's only hope is to find the grandfather she never knew and beg for his help.Confused, grieving, and determined to make amends, she embarks on a horseback journey across the mountains, guided by a wild,  unpredictable wolf who may or may not be real.

Set in the stunningly rugged terrain of Southern Colorado, House of Mercy follows Beth through the valley of the shadow of death into the unfathomable miracles of mercy.

This book was provided for review by The B&B Media Group.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman

Almost Amish by Kathryn Cushman is not your average Amish novel. And I'm so thankful for that! Finally, something other than Anne and Zebediah and their love forbidden by the ordnung. Finally, a book with words that everyone can understand and not have to revert to looking them up in the included glossary (does that bother anyone else, or just me?)

Almost Amish follows sisters-in-law Julie and Susan and their children as they join a reality TV show based on their Almost Amish summer. They're whisked away from their California life and plopped down on a farm in the middle of Tennessee Amish country. They're given tasks to do and challenges to complete (like a week without the limited electricity that was afforded to them). It was fun to see how they handled things and to watch their victories and failures. 

I enjoyed this novel from start to finish and was surprised that this idea hasn't been snatched up by network TV already. This is one that would truly be fun to watch.

Almost Amish is from Bethany House. Check it out!

This book was provided for review by Bethany House.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney

Dying to Read by Lorena McCourtney is a fun little novel that was slow to grab my attention, but once I was into the story there was no letting go. Cate Kinkaid is assisting her Private Investigator uncle with a job while he's recovering in the hospital. She has no experience and can't seem to find work elsewhere so she's giving sleuthing a try. How hard can it be to find a woman named Willow to let her know she's got an inheritance coming her way?
Pretty hard once Kate finds a corpse instead.
Throw in a little romance, an ex-fiance, some blackmailers and a whole list of suspects and this little helpful job has Kate in the middle of big-time investigating.
A light easy read, good for a weekend getaway or a long plane ride.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

About the book:

Lorena McCourtney has spun a fast-paced and witty romantic mystery in her new book, Dying to Read.  From the very first chapter, she grabs your attention and keeps you hooked until the very end.
Cate Kinkaid is just dipping her toe into the world of private investigating until one of the many résumés she has floating around lands her a real job. All she has to do is determine that a particular woman lives at a particular address. Simple, right? When the big and brooding house happens to contain a dead body, this routine PI job turns out to be anything but simple. Is Cate in over her head?
Lorena McCourtney is the award-winning author of dozens of novels, including Invisible (which won the Daphne du Maurier Award from Romance Writers of America), In Plain Sight, On the Run, and Stranded. She resides in Oregon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Inescapable by Nancy Mehl

I discovered Nancy Mehl earlier this year and was excited to read her latest novel. I found it a little hard to get into, perhaps it was the first-person that it was written in? I never really connected with the main character. I will say though that the story was good and while the immanent danger facing Lizzie wound up being not at all who I thought it would be, it was a little melodramatic.
I found the character of Lizzie's father to be my favorite. Not because he was a nice guy, because he was pretty much a shrewd, but because he is a true reflection of many people in the church. People that I've come face to face with. He was written well and hopefully will make some people open their eyes to the damage they do to those around them.

From the back cover:
Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen she left her Mennonite hometown, Kingdom, Kansas, with plans to never return. But five years later, the new life she built is falling apart. Lizzie knows she's being followed, and she's certain the same mysterious stranger is behind the threatening letters she's received. Realizing she'll have to run again, the only escape Lizzie can manage is a return to the last place she wants to go.

Once she arrives in Kingdom, Lizzie is confident she'll be safe until she comes up with a new plan. In reacquainting herself with the town and its people--especially her old friend Noah Housler--she wonders if she judged her hometown and her Mennonite faith too harshly. However, just as she begins to come to terms with her roots, Lizzie is horrified to discover the danger she ran from is closer than ever.

No longer sure who to trust and fearful for her life and the lives of those around her, Lizzie finds she has only one place left to run--to the Father whose love is inescapable.

This book was provided for review by Bethany House.

Food Family Style by Leigh Oliver Vickery

Food Family Style by Leigh Oliver Vickery is a cookbook filled with a myriad of foods. From easy to make American dishes to tantalizing ethnic recipes. It contains recipes for every type of cook and has something for everyone. Some of the recipes aren't what I'd make (they use processed foods as an easy way to get started--like a can of cream-of-whatever soup) but there are plenty that appealed to me.
I chose to make the Almond Baked Fish on page 179, and while I forgot to take pictures of this delightful dish, I can tell you that my guys truly enjoyed every bite of it. I'm allowed to share one recipe with you, so here it is:

Almond Baked Fish

2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp + 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
4 (1/4 lb) flounder or other white fish fillets*
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup cracker crumbs, any kind*
2 tbsp slivered almonds

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine lemon juice, salt, and 2 teaspoons of melted butter in a 9x13 casserole dish. Arrange fish in dish. Spread mayonnaise over fish. Combine cracker crumbs, remaining 3 tablespoons of melted butter, and almonds; sprinkle over fish. Bake 10-15 minutes, until done.
*I used cod and panko.

Also included in this over 250 page book are dinner menus, a guide to tell you what a "serving size" of most foods is, and helpful hints and cooking tips. This would be a treasure for a new bride!

Other recipes I can't wait to try are:
Lamb Tandoori
Updated Green Bean Casserole (because that other one is NASTY!)
Zucchini fries
Delicious Glazed Cranberry Bread
Korean Pork Ribs
Apple Crumb Pie with Cinnamon Cream Sauce ( I KNOW, RIGHT???)
Gluten Free Berry Crisp

Just talking about this is making me hungry.
Go. Get this book. It's new from REVELL.

This book was provided for review by Revell.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck

Kristin Billerbeck is back and in The Scent of Rain has her most endearing character yet. Daphne drew me in and made me want to be her best friend (who wouldn't want a friend like her?) This book satisfied the reader in me and left me with misty eyes and a sappy smile at the last page. 
Daphne is all prepared for her wedding day and is only missing her groom. She flees the church with her friends, downs some wedding cake, and takes off for her new job, and what was supposed to be her new life, in Dayton, Ohio. It's a long way from home for this California girl, but life must go on and she's got a job, as a professional nose, to do. While reeling from her loss, she discovers it isn't the only thing she's lost and while she doesn't really tell a lie, she doesn't tell the truth either. Her new boss isn't sure what to make of her and he's happy to stay away and keep to his own pain. 
So many things interconnect in this book and all of the loose strings come together in the end and I was surprised by several of the twists. 
This author just keeps getting better and better!

This book was provided for review by Booksneeze.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt

Raising Financially Confident Kids by Mary Hunt is one of the best books I've ever read. It is a must-read if you have children. I am planning to implement some of the strategies that I learned from this book beginning in September. While my older child is leaving for school shortly and it's too late to teach him the values in it, we're going to use it for the one who's still at home and hopefully change that life in the process.
Mary's book is easy to read and understand and gives ideas for children of every age, and not just for financial matters, she teaches discipline as well. I loved her idea of the pop-sickle sticks for TV viewing, so clever! I had a hard time putting this one down, and for non-fiction, that's a rare case for me.
Please, for your family, buy a copy of this one!
This book was provided for review by Revell.

Available August 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer

Karen Witemeyer may well be my favorite historical fiction author. Her books are so read and fun to read. Short-Straw Bride is her fourth novel and packs a punch stronger than I expected. Meredith Hayes runs to the forbidden Archer farm to warn the four reclusive brothers who live there of impending threats to their land. Before she knows it she finds herself to be married to the eldest, Travis, whom she's adored from afar for years. Through a series of events they begin to fall in love with each other and yearn for more.
The yearning in this novel, while between two married people, makes for some serious reading. It might be too much for an unmarried woman or for a young lady. I'd rate it as PG-13. Though there isn't any language involved, it's the way the scenes are written and the telling of the sexual desires. I've been married for a couple decades and this book made me feel things....(I'll leave it at that!)

The story is sweet and I enjoyed 99% of the book. The other 1% left me a little uncomfortable.

Watch the trailer for it

This book was provided for review by Bethany House.