Thursday, March 26, 2015

{Tyndale Blog Tour} Double Cross, Book 2 by Diann Mills


Book Description:  FBI Agent Laurel Evertson’s investigation into a scam targeting the elderly takes an unexpected twist when key evidence leads her to Morton Wilmington, a felon she arrested five years ago on her first undercover assignment. That case has haunted her since, and though she’s vowed to forget Wilmington—and what she sacrificed to put him away—he is now her best lead.


Houston Police Officer Daniel Hilton fears his grandparents may be the scammer’s next targets, and he’ll do anything to protect his family—even force interagency cooperation. But he’s quickly drawn to Laurel’s empathy and zeal and agrees to follow her lead . . . even if it means teaming up with a felon.



As the unlikely trio uncovers evidence suggesting the scam is more extensive and deadly than they imagined, both Laurel and Daniel find themselves in the crosshairs of a killer. Together they must decide if they can trust Wilmington’s claims of redemption, or if he’s leading them straight into a double cross.



My Thoughts: Ever since I read Firewall by DiAnn Mills, I've been waiting of the next book in the FBI: Houston "series."  I loved Firewall and just knew that Double Cross would just as great of a read.  I was not disappointed!

When DiAnn Mills writes it feels as if the reader is right there in the action.  And there is a lot of action and suspense in this read!  Love it!

FBI agent Laurel Everston is investigating a scam on elderly people.  There are quite a few twists and turns in this investigation. And then during the investigation she meets Houston police officer, Daniel Hilton, who wants to protect his family (interestingly enough in real life quite a few people become police officers or investigators because they want/have a need to protect others)....anyway, Laurel and Daniel meet.  

When Laurel and Daniel meet, Daniel wonders why Laurel has agreed to use the help of a felon.  But after talking, they both agree for the good of the people being scammed to team up.  Quite a team!

But is the felon, Morton Wilmington leading them straight into a double cross?

Loved this story!  Full of information, a "tad" romance and lots of action!

*This book was provided for review by Tyndale House Publishers*

  • Series: FBI: Houston (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (April 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1414389949
  • ISBN-13: 978-1414389943


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

Just In time for Easter:

I found this wonderful cookie recipe on Pinterest!  Oh!So!Good!  
Just In time for Easter

Cookies:
1 18 oz box white cake mix with pudding in the mix
2/3 cup flour
2 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
2 T sour cream (I used reduced fat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together cake mix and flour.  Add eggs, oil and sour cream and mix on medium speed until incorporated.  Batter will be fairly stiff.  Use a cookie scoop or roll into approximately one inch balls and bake on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.  This will help keep the bottoms of the cookies from browning.  Use the heel of your hand or a glass dusted with sugar to gently flatten cookies to about a half inch thick.  You don't want the bottoms to be browned or you've overbaked these.  Bake approximately ten minutes until just set.  Let cool about one minute on the pan and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T heavy cream
1 T vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 T meringue powder
Food coloring or sprinkles as desired

Beat butter on medium speed for about two minutes until smooth.  Add cream and vanilla and beat about one more minute to incorporate.  Add sugar, one cup at a time mixing on low speed until incorporated until you reach the desired consistency.  Add meringue powder  (this will help your frosting crust so that you can stack the cookies without smearing your frosting all over the place, I use a sheet of wax or parchment paper in between layers).  You want the frosting to be fairly stiff so that it doesnt run off your cookies.  Frost cooled cookies and decorate as desired.  Store cookies in an airtight container.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

River's Edge (Cape Refuge Series) by Terri Blackstock

Book Description:  Was Lisa Jackson’s disappearance related to politics, her husband’s affair, or her long-term infertility? 
Ben Jackson is going head to head with Jonathan Cleary in Cape Refuge’s mayoral race—and he’s even expected to win—when his wife Lisa turns up missing the day before the major debate. Suddenly the town is in turmoil as proof of an alleged affair surfaces, indicating that Ben Jackson might have had motive to kill his wife. 
Meanwhile, newspaper owner Blair Owens has other suspicions—and so does Police Chief Cade. Together they dig deeply into the mysterious disappearance that soon spirals into a web of confusion, dark secrets, and unsettling fraud. 
Then the town’s psychic reveals the location of Lisa’s body—at the bottom of the river. Even though Blair doesn’t believe his paranormal gift is real, she can’t imagine how he knew where the body was. 
The small-town scandal quickly turns into a national media event. Is the murderer one of the obvious suspects . . . or someone they have no reason to doubt?

My Thoughts:  I enjoy reading books penned by Terri Blackstock.  This is book 3 in the Cape Refuge Series...yeah, I did it again and began in the middle of a series.  But after reading this book I'm not sure series is a good word.  To me this is a stand alone read unless I missed something and didn't know it.
Lisa Jackson has disappeared...gone missing the day before her husband, Jonathan, is throwing in his hat for the mayoral race.  Oh!my!what!turmoil!  The whole town hears of the affairs that Ben Jackson has been involved in.  It sure looks like Ben had motive to kill his wife.
But on the other of town...Blair Owens, newspaper owner, and the Police Chief have a different idea of why and where Lisa Jackson may have disappeared.
This is quite a read.  Suspicion, murder, suspense galore!  
I think Terri Blackstock must be the Queen of Christian Suspense!  
What a grand read!

*This book was provided for review by BookLook*

  • Series: Cape Refuge Series (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (January 13, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310342791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310342793

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Mercy Rains, A Novel (The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy, book one) by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Book Description: She left, heavily weighted with secrets.

But God reveals all things, in His timing. 

And He redeems them.

 Suzanne Zimmerman was only seventeen and pregnant when her shamed mother quietly sent her away from their Old Order Mennonite community in Kansas. With her old home, family, and first love firmly behind her, Suzanne moved to Indiana, became a nurse, and raised a daughter, Alexa, on her own.
Now, nearly twenty years later, an unexpected letter arrives from Kansas. Her brother asks her to bring her nursing abilities home and care for their ailing mother. His request requires that Suzanne face a family that may not have forgiven her and a strict faith community. It also means seeing Paul Aldrich, her first love.    
Paul, widowed with an eight-year-old son, is relieved to see Suzanne again, giving him the chance to beg her forgiveness for his past indiscretion. But when he meets Alexa, his guilt flickers in the glare of Suzanne’s prolonged secret—one that changes everything. 
Suzanne had let go of any expectation for forgiveness long ago. Does she dare hope in mercy–and how will her uncovered past affect the people she loves the most?

My Thoughts:  When Mercy Rains by Kim Vogel Sawyer is the first book in the Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy.  
We meet Suzanne Zimmerman, aka Suzy, who always listened to her mother except for the one time when she made "the mistake."  The mistake cost her a move and she was "removed" from her family because of the child she carried.
Suzy grows up quickly...she delivers a sweet little girl, Alexa.  She goes to school and becomes a nurse.  She has made a new life.
However, after twenty years her brother contacts her and asks that she come home and take care of their ailing mother...these mother/daughter relationships are tricky and somewhat hard to understand.
Suzanne decides it's time to go home.  She meets Paul...the father of Alexa.  Paul wants Suzanne's forgiveness and then he meets Alexa.  Paul seems to feel guilty and he seems to feel betrayed...he never knew about Alexa.
A story of love and forgiveness and also, something much deeper . . .  sometimes other people in our lives don't make the best decisions for us.  And, yet, we follow their advice and sometimes, lose what is most dear to us.  Forgiveness becomes bitterness and yet  . . .  it's the choice of life . . . to forgive or not to forgive?  Not only is it a question it becomes a way of life.  
An interesting read about Old Order Mennonites.
Looking forward to reading the second book in this trilogy, When Grace Sings.

*This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah Publishing*


  • Series: The Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307731316
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307731319

COTT {Clash of the Titles} Olympia Finalists!

Olympia Finalists!


by Michelle Massaro


Hello, hello! Today is a big day!

I am very excited to announce this year’s Olympia Finalists!! Please congratulate:


*Kelly Goshorn
*Madelyn Herbert
*Mary Vaitkevicius-Vee








All three authors’ entries will go to our Round 3 judges: Karen BallBecky Philpott, and Becky Wade (links below)




The winner will be announced on April 8th!  But in the meantime, I had a little Q & A with our finalists:

Q: What genre and how long have you been writing? 

Mary:
I write YA mystery/adventure/with droplets of speculative fiction. I have been writing for ten years flittering from one genre flower to another. Last year I landed on a mystery flower and tasted the sweet nectar of the genre. It has become my intrigue and stay.

Madelyn:
A Farewell, Mrs. Wheatley is a historical fiction novel that was developed out of my undergraduate thesis on Phillis Wheatley.  My writing today finds its roots in everything that I have read.  Growing up, I would sleep with books under my pillow and my Mom and I would spend hours at the library. (We even discovered that a library card has a 100 book limit.)  As a college student, I was an English Major with a literary emphasis.  I gained exposure to the classics while learning how to understand the analytical and critical aspects of reading.  When I started my Master’s program in Creative Writing, I had a strong foundation that allowed me to explore writing that reflects literary knowledge.

Kelly:
Ever since Laura Ingalls peered into Almanzo Wilder’s eyes and called him “Manly”, I’ve been a pushover for historical romances. But, believe it or not, I wasn’t much of a reader until my sister introduced me to Janette Oke’s, Love Comes Softly. It’s been a love affair ever since.
So many writers say they’ve wanted to write since they were a child. That is not my story. I have always enjoyed writing, but not even in the deep recesses of my mind, did I ever aspire to be an author. In fact, my only experience was writing research papers for my history classes in college and graduate school. My youngest son enjoys writing and he inspired me to tinker around with writing fiction. It didn’t take long for the “bug” to bite. I’ve been earnestly writing historical romance for a little more than two years.

Q: What does Finaling in the Olympia mean to you? 

Kelly:
Where would any writer be without readers? That’s who we write for. We long for someone to step into our story world, fall in love with our characters, and take their journey with us. Having people who love inspirational fiction as much as I do say they enjoyed my story is a tremendous blessing. I pray daily that God would inspire me to write stories that encourage and entertain others, while glorifying Him.

Mary:
Finaling in the Olympia contest is like receiving a hug from God. I am humbled and encouraged beyond my wildest imagination.

Madelyn:
Being a finalist in the Olympia is very motivating as a writer.  So often, as writers, we discredit our own work.  We find reasons to push it aside and discard it before we even give it a chance to succeed. We tell ourselves that we are not qualified to write.  But finaling in the Olympia reminds me that writing is a calling.  Writing is a vocation. God has given writers the gift of words.  I look forward to responding to God’s calling.

Q: What advice would you give other unpublished authors out there?

Madelyn:
If you mom likes your work – believe her! Every writer needs someone to hold them accountable and to provide motivation.  For me, that is my mom.  I have been ready to push A Farewell, Mrs. Wheatley aside many times and not finish. But what keeps me going is her honest feedback after each round of revisions. This manuscript would not have been written if it weren’t for her support.

Mary:
The advice I'd like to share with fellow unpublished authors is taken from one of my favorite movie quotes: "Never give up. Never surrender." Anything worth pursuing will not have an easy road. Each step forward is an accomplishment, each step back is a lesson. I haven't crossed the publication finish line, yet, but with God's help, I will one day and so can you.

Kelly:
Oh wow, what a question! Two things: 1) Don’t Quit! Believe in yourself and the story God has placed on your heart! Determine in advance that you will not give up—even if you only have a few hours each week to write. Read books on the craft or attend a conference, but keep learning and keep writing. 2) Join a critique group. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers last May and immediately began subbing on their Scribes critique loop. Some of those initial critiques were painful (wincing now), but the amazing community of Christian writers gathered there want to help you succeed. Many of those first critiquers have become trusted friends whose comments and suggestions I rely on heavily.

***


Fantastic answers from all of you, and what a wonderful glimpse into each of your hearts. Clash of the Titles is rooting for all of our contestants and praying the best for each of you!

If you’re an unpublished novelist interested in entering the next Olympia, submissions open in the Fall. Dates to be announced.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WOW {Warm Oven Wednesday}

Chicken Salad with Watermelon and Peaches

Another great recipe from Reader's Digest:

Chicken Salad with Watermelon and Peaches
Ingredients
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
Instructions
Mix together the chicken, yogurt, mayonnaise, dill and lemon juice.
Servings
Makes 4 to 6 Servings.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Paleo Chef: Quick, Flavorful Paleo Meals for Eating Well by Pete Evans

Book Description:  Acclaimed international chef and television personality Pete Evans takes a whole new approach to making gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free, completely Paleo recipes that are worthy of a restaurant but effortless to prepare. 


More and more people are discovering the health benefits of the Paleo lifestyle by cutting out processed, sugary foods and instead eating quality proteins and fats, fresh vegetables and fruits, and nuts and seeds. However, following this way of eating doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor or spending a long time in the kitchen. In The Paleo Chef, Evans provides more than 100 recipes for gorgeous food that is satisfying, distinctive, and good for you, including Kale Hummus, Vietnamese Chicken Wings, and Key Lime Tart.


Each and every one of Evans’s innovative recipes pops with flavor and is brought to life with stunning, full-color photography. Living—and eating—the Paleo lifestyle has never been so effortless and so delicious.

My Thoughts:  It seems that "the Paleo diet" has overtaken our world.  So, not one to be left behind....I decided to join the "paleo movement."  But didn't know where to begin.  That's when I saw this wonderful, hardback book with LOTS of great Paleo recipes.  Can you say...WOW!  Oh!Yeah!  Just the book to get started!
Since I was so excited to begin this new phase in my life,  I quickly opened the book and began to make a grocery list. Uh!oh!  Each recipe has at least one exotic ingredient.  And it seems that most (maybe all of the recipes) use coconut oil.  I live in the boonies of Texas...this may not work!
I decided that even though this is a beautiful book with wonderful pictures it just won't work for me. I've decided to eat plainly and not so vainly.
I love this book, as a book!  But decided it is probably just a tad.too.exotic for me.  
Now, if you are a cook and love making everything from scratch and have access to "exotic" ingredients, then you'll love this cookbook.

Recipe examples taken from the book and provided by the publisher:
Root Vegetable Slaw
Go here for recipe:  http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/RANDO/ASAP/Root_vegetable_slaw.pdf
Brownies
Go Here for recipe: http://g-ec2.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/RANDO/ASAP/Chocolate_Brownies.pdf

*This book was provided for review by Waterbrook/Multnomah*

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press (December 30, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160774743X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1607747437