Wednesday, May 27, 2015

As Waters Gone By Book Review

As Waters Gone By by Cynthia Ruchticame into my email as a new book that I had a chance to review through the publisher.  I signed up to read this book because I just liked the cover.  Is there a silly reason to want to read the book?  I guess that means that the person who did the cover art should get a lot of credit.  Do you like the cover on the book?  It really brings up the idea of a small cabin that seemed really interesting to me and the book was about interesting sounding characters so what could be bad about that.  Nothing except my use of tissues!!  This book should come with a box of tissues attached to it because it really pulled on my heart strings.  I hope that you enjoy not only the cover art but the book itself like I did!

Emmalyn Ross has only a few months left to figure out if she and her husband, Max, can ever be a couple again. In prison for actions that ensured his wife could never be a mother, Max is now scheduled for release, and Emmalyn wonders how she can let him back into her life after all he’s put her through. During his five-year incarceration, Emmalyn moved to the beautiful, but remote Madeline Island in Lake Superior because she can't afford their house anymore. With the help of a circle of misfit town residents, including the exuberant owner of the Wild Iris Inn and CafĂ©, Emmalyn begins to restore her heart while refurbishing her very own island cottage. She learns what it means to love unconditionally and finds that her dream of a house and a home filled with God’s love might become a reality, but only if she and Max can find a way to rebuild their marriage…and win the fight of their lives in the process.

I loved this book.  I can't say enough about the characters but you really feel like you are in the middle of this book and want to jump up to help every time that they needed anything.  The descriptions of the foods will make you want to make these wonderful tasty comfort foods and the description of the surroundings will make you want to take a trip to this remote island.  I don't know why I have always wanted to live on such a small island but the thought has always been appealing!! This book will make you feel like part of this fun little community that pulls together in times of trouble.  Emmalyn, M for short, has gone through her life doing as she thought she should do but coming to this town makes her grow up and realize that there are other things that can make you happy and you need to open your life up to let them happen.  I hope that you check out this inspirational book and find out for yourself.  I know that you will want to run out and get the book (or come borrow it from me).  The even better news is that they sent me a second book from the same author that I get to read too!  You will see the review soon.

**I was given a copy of this book for my review and honest opinion.  All opinions here are my own.  If you are interested in becoming part of the publishers review, check out Litfuse Publishing here for details.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Love Like Ours Book Review

I was so excited to get A Love Like Ours (Porter Family Novels) by Becky Wade.  It looked like a really fun book that would keep me interested and I wasn't disappointed...except maybe by the lack of sleep.  I started this book on Saturday and went to bed early so that I could get some more sleep.  I read a little bit of the book and then went to sleep.  I woke up a few hours later and couldn't fall back to sleep.  I read for at least a few hours before making myself shut my eyes.  I woke up in the morning and finished reading the book.  It might not have been the most productive use of time but I promise that once you pick this book up, you will want to find out what happens next!!!

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships.  When Lyndie James, Jake's childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion's reluctance to run.  Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake's will, Lyndie's sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he's built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he'd thought he'd lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend?

I loved it!  The characters and the writing was great!!  I was super glad to see that it was the third book in the series and I can't wait to get the previous two books to check them out.  I am sure that the are going to be just as good while getting to know other characters in the big family.  This book was very emotional and had me feeling everything that the characters which is why I couldn't put it down.  If you love books where you feel right in the middle of things, this is your book.  It deals with the struggles of PTSD, jobs and love.  All of the issues at the same time makes for a great story that is hard to put down.  I hope that you pick it up at your local library or bookstore and check it out for yourself!!  I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did!!

**I was provided this book for my honest opinion and review from the publisher.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Called to Be Amish Book Review and Recipe

I wasn't sure about this Amish book because isn't of the normal Amish fiction, it was Amish non-fiction.  What a true story from the Amish?  I was skeptical but interested so I decided that I should read it and get an opinion from the actual book.  Who isn't interested in the Amish and how someone would have joined them?  I was!!! Called to Be Amish: My Journey from Head Majorette to the Old Order by  Marlene C. Miller was an retelling on one women's life who left a "normal" life to be part of the Old Order sect, her husband was a former member.

Fewer than one hundred people have joined the Old Order Amish and stayed since 1950. Marlene C. Miller is one of them. In this rare memoir, Marlene recounts her unhappy and abusive childhood, how she throws herself into cheerleading and marching band, and how she falls in love with Johnny, the gentle young Amish man who helps her lace her ice skates. Against the wishes of both sets of parents, Marlene and Johnny get married and begin a family. Follow the author on this unusual journey to find out how God's love called her out of bitterness and depression and into the warm embrace of her new Amish community. Accompany her as she dons an Amish dress and prayer covering and gets baptized. Learn how she endures the strain of ten children, a hundred-acre farm, and accidents and tragedy, and find out how she comes close to walking away from it all. Turning Amish has proven to be anything but plain and simple for this former majorette. But nearly fifty years later, Marlene is still living out God's call as an Old Order Amish woman.

The beginning of the book was a little hard to read going back and forth between parts of Marlene's life.  I was afraid that I was going to have to fight to get through the book.  Then everything changed and I got into the book and couldn't put it down.  I am at a mixed opinion on what type of rating to give this book because at the end, I was glad that I read it but at the beginning I was afraid I wasn't going to be able to get through the whole book so I am in between it was OK and I liked it.  It is worth reading because there is lots of information about the Amish community that Marlene joins and learning the difference between fact and fiction.  The parts that I didn't like about it was the parts where Marlene says how patient Johnny (her husband) was with her because she was so bad at being Amish.  She gave up her whole life to become closer to his family and faith and she spends all of the time saying how bad she is at cooking, cleaning, taking care of 9 kids and farming.  I know people can be hard on themselves but it is a little much to read over and over in a book.  The other part was more of an implication that she became Amish because her parents abused her.  There are plenty of people that have been abused and don't turn to the Amish so that is a silly conclusion but everyone upbringing affects them so I can certainly understand that she made decisions based on her past that lead her to her current life.  Overall, the story was heartwarming about how she found her place in the world and very sad with some of the trials that she went through but I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who won't give up at the beginning of the book because the journey is worth the read.  I hope that you pick this up at your local library or bookstore and see what you think!

In addition, the back has a few fun recipes including some that I know I will never make mixed with a few that I just might.  She has Amish Dressing, Scrapple, Old-Fashion Date Pudding, Potato Doughnuts, Puffball or Quick Tea Doughnuts, and Dampf Knepp (Caramel Dumplings).  The two that are most interesting to me are, of course, the doughnuts. I went straight to the internet to see if there was anyone else out there making these tasty treats and found one here.  She suggests a little thinner batter so I am going to try it out and see and so can you with the following recipe.  The recipe for Mashed Potato Doughnuts seem to be all over the place on the internet so I am going to make a note of this one and see if I get a chance to make them.

Puffball or Quick Tea Doughnuts

3 eggs
1 c. sugar
2 c. milk
2 Tbsp. melted fat (or canola oil)
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. flour (plus more later in recipe directions)

Beat eggs.  Add sugar and milk.  Add dry ingredients together and into the liquid.  Beat thoroughly and add melted fat.

Add more flour to make a batter stiff enough to hold a spoon in a standing position. (I found that made pret-ty dense puff balls. I add flour to make it like stiff pancake batter, or the same consistency as corn fritter batter. That makes much better puffballs!) Drop by spoonfuls into deep fat at 375 degrees.  Remove when brown and drain on absorbent paper.  This makes approx. 4 dozen.

**I received a copy of this book for my honest opinion and review from the publisher.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Going to the Chapel Book Review

I was on the search for more books at the library and found Going to the Chapel (Life, Faith & Gettin​g It Right #19) (Steeple Hill Cafe) by Janet Tronstad.  I didn't know anything about it but I put it in the bag to bring home from the library.  I figured that since I like everything else by the author that I would love this one too.

Her rich, spoiled, about-to-be-married cousin always loved making Julie White feel inferior. So to impress Cousin Elaine, Julie lets her think she's landed her dream job--as a wedding planner. But when Elaine's real wedding planner runs off with all her families wedding money, she begs Julie to save her big day, forcing her to organize a huge, splashy wedding at the chapel where she actually works. Hopefully, the bride, the groom and two hundred assorted guests somehow won't notice that it's really a funeral chapel.  Pick up this book to find out how it all goes!

It was a fun book that was totally different then the other books by this author in the Dry Creek Series.  I was thinking that there was going to be more similarities but I think that this is more like Janet Evanvovich series with Stephanie Plum.  If there was something that could go wrong, it did and there are so many fun family fun times.  I thought it was a great character development book and I am going to start looking for a few more like these ones by Janet Tronstad.  I hope that you can pick this up this at your local library or bookstore and check it out for yourself!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Snowfall Book Review

I reserved a bunch of books at the library that I was interested in and I gave them all different times to come off reserve.  I got an email that two books were waiting for me at the library so I went to get them.  Snowfall: A Days of Redemption Christmas Novella by Shelley Shepard Gray was one of the books that was waiting for me.  It was the one that I decided to pick up first to read when I finished the book that I was reading while I was at the library.  I knew that it seemed a little familiar so I figured out that I read the teaser from another one of the Shelley Shepard Gray books that I read previously.  The book has a NEW sticker on the back which means that it is new to the library so I guess I was just lucky that I finally got to read it since they bought it at the library!

Twenty-year old Ruth Stutzman is a wonderful caregiver—but she has no experience with kinner (children). Laid off from her job at a retirement home due to budget cuts, she’s relieved to find work—even if it means temporarily watching widower Martin Rodes’ brood of six!  Martin has done the best he can since his wife’s passing, but he and the children need help. Their house, once full of laughter and light, has been darkened by sadness. Soon after Ruth arrives, the children are drawn to her warmth and gentleness, and so is Martin, even though he feels it’s wrong. But the harder he tries to ignore her, the deeper he begins to care for this attractive young woman who has brought joy back into his children’s lives . . . and his own.  Each passing day brings the Rodes closer to Ruth . . . and closer to Christmas, when she will have to say goodbye. Ruth, too, cannot deny the bond she feels with the children and with Martin.

I love these Amish fiction books that include great characters and the ever present setting of the Christmas snow.  The book gets you from the beginning with the similarities to Sound of Music where there are six children in need of someone to watch them while their widowed father is working.  The children have trouble getting along with anyone and run off the previous caregiver but Ruth knows what it is like to not belong so she quickly gains the trust of the children.  It is so easy to fall right into the lovely story and characters that you will also love this book.  The short 222 page book is a great quick read that will leave you wanting more of these characters and more books in the series!!  I hope that you pick it up the next time you are at the library or bookstore.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thrifty Thursday: Prepping for the Week and Some Freezer Cooking

I love to get time over the weekend to prepare for the week.  There are a few things that you can do to make your week go so much easier and I was working on a plan to do just that.  I also love freezer cooking because it helps with middle of the week cooking because the items you need are already in the freezer ready for the meal. Cooking ahead saves time and money!  Then there is no need to order out!

This weekend was a little busy on Saturday with working on the new house and soccer games.  There wasn't a lot of extra time except to make dinner.  I was looking forward to Sunday being a slower and super hopeful that it would give me time to prep for the week.  I started by making a batch of rolls!  I love homemade rolls and I will leave out enough for dinner this week and freeze the rest for next week.

Then, I decided to make that loaf of applesauce bread that I had wanted all of last week.  In addition, while I was making that, I mixed up an extra jar of the dry ingredients which is super easy to do and then I have them on hand to whip up a fast loaf of bread in the coming weeks without haven't to pull out all the ingredients (or even having to have them at the same house).  I love my neat blue canning funnel but for those of you who don't have that, I used a funnel made of paper before which is super easy to roll with a little hole at the bottom and a little tape on the side.  They don't last long but they work well and are super easy to make!

I have a few days of breakfast food with the loaf of bread and then I have some ready to go for the next loaf because they don't last long here either.  YUM!

I mixed up another loaf of sandwich bread in the bread machine.  This helped me get ready for the week because my son got on a peanut butter sandwich binge for lunch on Sunday so I thought that I would have enough to last through a few days but all for the best because the milk was getting close to the date.

While I was making the loaf of bread, I decided to take the ends of last weeks bread to make garlic bread for this weeks pasta dish.  I buttered them and added garlic salt and decided to wrap them in aluminum foil and put them in the fridge.  They will be ready to stick in the oven as is when pasta night is here!!

I cut up the potatoes that I needed for dinner and put them in water in the fridge so that they wouldn't brown.  It always gets busy around dinner so good to have things done ahead even if for that evening.

The applesauce bread came out of the oven and I was off to the next thing on the list- bringing my husband lunch at the new house and going to the grocery store.  I barely ever do that on the weekend but since I was out, I figured that I would brave the crowds to get lunch meat and snacks for our trip.  I wanted to come back and make some baking mix but things always take a different turn so it was a little busier day with entertaining my son. There is always tomorrow!!  It will be first on the list if I don't do it late after bedtime for the little man.

Instead, I got to make the rosemary chicken and potatoes on the plan for dinner and enjoy some family time before my husband had to get back to finishing some work at the new house.  I know that we can't wait for this all to be over but at least I think that I am somewhat prepared for the week to start.  Did you do anything ahead this week to save you time when you didn't have it?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Amish Promises Book Review

I was excited to pick out another Amish fiction book to be able to read.  I also was glad to see another book by Leslie Gould.  I read Becoming Bea in 2014 and I haven't read anything else by this wonderful author. Amish Promises (Neighbors of Lancaster County) by Leslie Gould was super easy to pick and sign up for when I saw it offered by the publisher.  I really need to add some more of her books to my reading list. 

When Joel and Shani Beck arrive at their new home, they're looking for peace. Shani is thrilled to have Joel back from Iraq, but he needs time to heal, and the quiet of Lancaster seems just the place. They can't imagine any trouble with their Amish neighbors, the Lehmans, but things get off to a rocky start when their son is involved in an accident that injures one of the Lehman boys.  Eve Lehman has run her brother's household ever since the death of his wife, but Tim's a stern patriarch. Despite his protests, she's drawn to the new neighbor, Shani, and the two begin to form a strong friendship forged on faith and family. Things seem like they've quieted down until Joel's single and handsome army friend Charlie catches Eve's attention--a man unlike any Eve has ever met. Suddenly life for both families becomes more complicated than any of them could have ever imagined.

I enjoyed this book!! It was a great read which I couldn't put down until the end (even at it long 360 pages).  I loved the writing and the characters and was totally engrossed in the wonderful story.  The relationships that build between the kids was interesting to watch and wonder.  The friendships between the adult characters was equally great to watch.  The only hard character to watch was Joel but that was the writers point in writing such a difficult character who needs to heal but can't because he has closed his heart off to the love of his friends and family.  I can't wait to read the rest of the series and more of her writing (and to find out what happens with the characters next).  I am adding lots on to my must read list and I hope that you will to.  Pick up this book and others by this author at your local library or bookstore.

**I was provided a copy of this book for my honest opinion and review.  All opinions here are my own.