Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Essential Amish Cookbook by Lovina Eicher

When you open this cookbook up you are going to find much more than recipes. You will find the heart of a woman. The photographs within this cookbook tell a story all their own. They are warm and inviting. Just as I imagine Lovina would be to one entering her kitchen. 

You too will find stories that go along with each recipe. Lovina shares with the reader how she used the recipe and what it means to her. These little notes make you feel as if she wrote the recipe down for you with her own pen. 

The chapter I enjoyed reading the most would be the chapter devoted to Amish Wedding Meals. Okay, these recipes are created for HUGE crowds of people. You can look at the photos, read her notes, and just imagine yourself nestled in a church service or around a table. 

This is one of those cookbooks that you can actually see yourself using. From breakfast, lunch, to dinner. Spring, summer, fall, or winter. There are recipes that cover every setting and season. Throughout my own life I have had many of these dishes. Lovina has a way of simplifying each of them to make them approachable.

There are many recipes for rhubarb that I am excited to give a try. Quite a few recipes call for lard. Some use Velveeta or your favorite cheese. There are recipes for canning, delicious beverages, desserts, breads, and main dishes. There's something in here for everyone, but most of all these are recipes to bring people to the table. 

This cookbook was a gift from Herald Press for sharing my review with you. 

Lovina Eicher is the author of the syndicated column Lovina's Amish Kitchen, which appears in forty newspapers around the United States and on a weekly blog. She is the author of several cookbooks. Lovina and her husband have eight children and live in rural Michigan. 

Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert (book 3 in Crisis Team Series)

I love being introduced to new authors. Now, Candace isn't new at all. I was going through the novels at Tyndale and this one stood out to me. I knew of Candace, but I hadn't read any of her work. Oh, what I have been missing. She is fabulous! 

For the first time ever, and I have been reviewing for many years now, I fell in love with the main character within the first two chapters. Within the first chapter Calvert had me so intrigued that this was a novel that was difficult to put down. 

When I chose this novel I had no idea it was third in this series. I always share with fellow readers that if you're going to read a series read them in order to get the best out of the penned words being offered. Not so with this novel! I was blown away when I realized it was the final book of the series. Although I have not read the first two, which I am now hoping to go back and read, I didn't feel at all that I was missing anything. This could totally be a stand alone novel. 

Just like with Lay's chips you can't eat just one, well, I think I just may be addicted. I cannot wait to read more of this author. This novel held a bit of everything. What sticks out to me is the heart of the characters that Calvert was able to bring to life. It was perfectly paced, heart-grabbing, and believable. I love when a novel is so believable that I can find myself within the characters. 

The back cover doesn't give a vast description of this novel. Sure, a romance, but there's also suspense, a kind of at the edge of your seat read. I also love that faith is woven throughout this novel. We see characters who are on the fence with God. We see their inner struggle with faith. They have believed at one time in their life, but as circumstances have brought them to come face to face with their fears, they have come to the conclusion that a relationship with God is the last thing that's possible. But, they will come to see that if God had a fridge their picture would be right on the front!

You know how there are books that come at the right time? This is one of those novels for me. Seven months ago my husband was hit by a drunk driver. He is still recovering from the crash. Everything about this drunk driver has changed our lives forever. Let me just say the characters in this novel brought me to a place I didn't feel comfortable with. Not in a bad way. But in that way that helped me to see what my deep anger was doing. See, there are many aspects to the characters in this novel that bring to light how drunk driving affects every aspect of life. This is one of those novels that can make a huge impact on the reader who is facing circumstances whether they are in the driver's seat, the passenger, or at the funeral of one killed by a drunk driver. So many different aspects and emotions collide with these characters. Candace wove masterfully wove them all together.

Not only medical drama, but there are many criminal aspects too! This is your favorite soap opera on steroids. This novel is explosive in bringing many characters together and entwining their stories to create this jam-packed creation. There are many twists and turns, stories within stories, and characters that will bring you to look closer at yourself. 

Maybe what I love the most is that these characters took their second chance and didn't waste it. I loved journeying with these characters. They knew what their past held, how far they had come, and what it took for them to be whole. They had to find forgiveness in others and in themselves. They were not about to give up what they had come to see as a journey where God had never left them.

This novel was a gift from Tyndale for sharing my review with you.

Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse and author of the Mercy Hospital, Grace Medical, and Crisis Team series. Her medical dramas offer readers a chance to "scrub in" on the exciting world of emergency medicine. Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, Candace makes her home in northern California. Please visit her website at

Monday, April 10, 2017

Beyond Justice by Cara Putman

Intelligent and thought provoking. Powerful writing and stand out characters.  This is a fast paced read. One that easily flows as the story grows. 

Good verses evil. Strong characters take part in this litigating suspense. Cara Putman is outstanding as she gives great attention to detail for the reader to have a front row seat. 

The main character is a great example of strength and tenacity. She is a woman of faith. She isn't afraid to take cases that others think are unwinnable. She's ready to not just fight for injustice, but to masterfully litigate using her strengths. 

She knows her limits. This is another aspect I love. Behind this strong woman are a group of friends who support, encourage, and inspire her. She's a character that doesn't waste time on things that are not leaving an impact in the world around her. She knows who she is and no matter what lies before her, she knows without a doubt where she is going. This is a woman not defined by what she does, but simply by who she is and how she lives her moments. 

Andrew and Emilie are also outstanding characters. Each having a strong presence.  I love how every character intertwines with the others. Cara didn't put in fillers and fluff. Nothing that didn't have to be there. She filled the pages with storyline to give the reader a jam-packed reading event. 

Immigration, illegal entrance, drug cartel, and a juvenile detainee center are all a part of this storyline. Murder, politics, government secrets, and blackmail are all woven throughout these black and white chapters to bring about a colorful array of mechanics that bring our main characters together. 

Our main characters bring friendship, family, honor, faith, and love to the story. I am excited for the next novel to release. Imperfect Justice sounds like another thrilling read! 

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Cara Putman graduated high school at sixteen, college at twenty, and completed her law degree at twenty-seven. She has published more then twenty books, teaches college courses, practices law, and is a home-schooling mom. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Illusionist's Apprentice by Kristy Cambron

I want to begin this review sharing two reviews I was blessed to do. The Butterfly and The Violin and A Sparrow in Terezin. For me these two novels were masterpieces. Works of such exquisite beauty. They showed that Kristy Cambron is gifted with the pen, a master storyteller. They remain two of my all-time top favorites. 

It was for this reason I was thrilled to be receiving a copy of The Illusionist's Apprentice. Once again Cambron shows us a masterpiece of bringing a story to readers that speaks of faith and our Lord. Although throughout the novel these aspects are not boldly proclaimed, but are masterfully weaved throughout the story. 

Magic and illusion are not the same. I love how she brings this truth. Love that the main character was an apprentice to the master of illusion. She takes the use of being an apprentice and walks that road with integrity and hope. When we choose to walk with Christ we are His apprentices. We are to walk as the main character, Wren Lockhart walked. We hold true to what we believe, we are on guard for what traps that lie in wait around us carried out by the one of deceit and lies, Satan. There is much here about bringing about truth in a world of lies. When we walk in light the lies of darkness will be revealed. 

Wren Lockhart is protective of those she loves. She is a strong character. She doesn't fear the darkness around her, but knows the truth of trickery and hates what it does to people who totally believe. When we live faith we don't have faith in the seen, but in what is unseen. We believe the impossible is possible with God alone. Faith isn't meant to deceive people, but to bring out the best in them to shine light throughout the world around them. 

Although Wren Lockhart is one person on stage, she is another in her private life, but through both she is authentic to who she truly is in her heart. Even on stage she doesn't give in to worldliness as others have done. She hasn't allowed the stage to change her into someone she isn't to be, but being strong in faith she allows the characteristics of faith to light up a stage in a way others cannot touch. 

One of my favorite things about this novel is that Cambron masterfully uses  a scene in the novel to show us that only Christ can conquer the grave. See, in the beginning of the novel there is one who is trying to make a name for himself, to point a light onto only him, by proclaiming that he can bring a dead man to life. There was much deceit and trickery in his act, magic. This is something that Houdini debunked throughout his career. Again, bringing a darkness into the light so the truth can be uncovered. 

Suspense, romance, and faith are weaved throughout this novel. I love unexpected romance. There's a love that grows when two people allow a transparency and trust between them. With that said, throw in Harry Houdini, an apprentice who is gifted after years of learning from the master, magicians who sow deceit, a crime of murder to solve, two detectives willing to go the distance to uncover the truth,  and a few characters who test everything about them. 

If one takes there time in reading this novel they will uncover many beautiful aspects to living a life of faith. But, that's the key, taking their time. Yet, I found the first chapters very slow. Sadly, I didn't connect to the characters. I wanted to. I so wanted to fall in love with these characters of the 1920s in this vaudeville era. I enjoyed the history, the theme of the story, but something was missing for me. Maybe because this novel is so very different from those favorites I have shared with you. As much as I enjoyed the story I just couldn't connect with the characters. You know, that strong connection that drives you to turn pages. There was just a disconnect there for me that I wish wasn't there. But this novel was unlike the two I shared. With those the characters leaped off the pages. They were vibrant and heart changing. 

Oh, and the unexpected romance. This was a sweet growing one. Something else was the fact that Wren's early life wasn't so easy. She lived through tragedy, but what I love is that she didn't allow this tragedy to define her. She gained a strength from her passion for God that led her to pursuing life in an adventure, believing in a God who would show her great things impossible without faith. 

And Wren, just the name alone, gives us a story that points to our Savior. Oh, these things I LOVE! That's what I mean about Cambron being a master storyteller. Although I didn't really connect with the characters there was much to love about this novel. You may very well pick up this novel and walk away with a different experience and find yourself in these characters. You are sure to find something about Cambron's writing that will bring you to fall in love with reading all over again.

This novel was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews' list of Best Books of 2014 and 2015 and have received nominations for RT Reviewers' Choice Awards Best Inspirational Book 2014 and 2015. She holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University and has fifteen years of training and communications experience for a Fortune 100 corporation. She lives in Indiana  with her husband and three football-loving sons. 


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