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Once Upon a Winter's Heart
Once Upon a Winter's Heart
by Melody Carlson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.00
80 used & new from $0.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet as a Heart Full of Chocolates..., April 12, 2014
Emma's life is in transition and somewhere along the way she has lost all hope in the possibility of happy-ever-afters.

Out of family obligation and after quitting her job she trudges to her grandmother's home to help grandma deal with the loss of the last true romantic man in the world. Emma discovers that her mother is going to be bunking with them as well. Her own parents are calling it quits.

With heavy heart and a belly full of bitter thoughts Emma heads to the family bookstore to pick up the Valentine decorating gauntlet. A friend of her grandfather lives above the bookstore and stops in because the lights are on. Lane stays to help because Valentine's Day was Poppi's favorite holiday. Emma and Lane spend a romantic evening decorating.

Emma wakes with a new spring in her step and a flicker of hope in her heart until she finds out Lane is her sister's love interest.

Lovers of sweet romance should find much to like in this little novel. Emma struggles with feeling like the ugly duckling and carrying around the burden of not believing in love. By the book's end she had bloomed. Plenty of sister and mom drama fills the novel so those who appreciate a little sisterly sparring will appreciate this element. Fans of wine and chocolate and Dean Martin will likely love this sweet little read.

The Devil Walks in Mattingly
The Devil Walks in Mattingly
by Billy Coffey
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.26
62 used & new from $7.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Supernatural, Spiritual with Literary Depth..., April 12, 2014
the devil walks in mattingly is a fascinating blend of literary delicacies, page turning intensity, moments of horror, and a picture of grace and the human race's need for it.

Jake and Kate have lived in small town Mattingly their entire lives. That comes with it's own baggage. Jake carries the burden of the blood that runs through his veins and the expectations of every member in town. Adding to the burden is Jake's status as sheriff.

Jake and Kate bear another burden. One that ties them to a classmates death twenty years earlier. Unfortunately, those ties have haunted them both since the fateful day long ago. Each, in his or her way deals with the horror of choices they made, but very much alone and very much without hope of ever feeling set free from the past.

Enter another member of that fateful day and his desire to cleanse and make right the wrongs. However, his mind has been touched by the Hollow where he has sequestered himself, the haunted hollow that is full of eyes.

With more twists and turns in intensity the story unfolds and involves the entire town. Lives are lost, grace is found, peace is made, hope reignites.

Who will love this book? If you think it sounds intriguing and you aren't bothered by spiritual elements that are extra biblical, blood, or high levels of suspense you should check it out. If you prefer your fiction to be light and inspirational or are bothered by speculation or a lack of clear steps to finding Jesus, it's best to avoid it.

I will read more from Billy Coffey.

God is Able
God is Able
by Priscilla Evans Shirer
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.69
60 used & new from $5.60

4.0 out of 5 stars Short, Sweet and Foundationally Important..., April 12, 2014
This review is from: God is Able (Paperback)
I’ve not read Priscilla Shirer before this little study. This won’t be my last. Though God is Able is a short read ( about 150 pages) and though it essentially covers 2 verses it’s packed with truth and much to think about.

It would be lovely if we could grab hold of scripture and embrace it fully as truth and live our lives by the principles. However, in my experience, taking apart verses, considering them in light of the context and the entire counsel of the Word of God, and having pictures painted to show me what exactly the truth means for me and my life, is most often necessary. Shirer does just that. She presents the truth about God’s character through stories, examples and word pictures. She encourages active listening, wherein you hear, really hear what’s being said and act on it. She transparently shares her own insecurities and challenges, her own struggles in the process of embracing truth.

Overall, this is a good study that probably should be read every year or so. (Another thing I’ve learned…truth fades when I stop exposing myself fervently to it.) A small women's group discussion over each chapter (which generally takes on one portion of the verse) could easily be a group activity. Shirer’s voice is very poetic and sing-songy in delivery. She is often snappy and humorous, other times vulnerable, sometimes the delivery is a little overwhelming and I had to take it in small portions. If you are looking for a group study or to add some solid foundational truth to your life you might want to look further into this book.

Healer of Carthage: A Novel (The Carthage Chronicles)
Healer of Carthage: A Novel (The Carthage Chronicles)
by Lynne Gentry
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.99
52 used & new from $4.85

4.0 out of 5 stars A Peek Into An Ancient Culture With a Few Twists and Turns, April 12, 2014
I’ve been a fan of time travel since reading Michelle Griep’s Gallimore. Lynne Gentry ably picks up that genre in a different time and different place – uh, well, kind of.

Present day overwhelmed medical resident/student Lisbeth plods through her residency while juggling concerns about her mad-archeologist father who resides half a world away.

After a lapse in judgment plunges Lisbeth into a tragic leave of absence she flies to Egypt to try to figure out what’s going on in her father’s semi-lucid mind.

Through a series of events Lisbeth wakes up enslaved in ancient Carthage. As Lisbeth slowly realizes that she is literally in an ancient civilization events and surprises unfold all around her. She finds that her skill and know-how are a necessity to help others and survive the brutal reality, and her emotions a luxury she can’t wallow in. Life and death are all too real.

Lisbeth’s life becomes intertwined with the people of the past. Once she finds the key to returning to the future/her present she must decide the price she’s willing to pay to go or to stay.

This novel is historically rich and the details paint a fascination picture of a very different civilization. Not all will appreciate some brutal or intense moments so consider it a PG 13 read. History and fantasy buffs should find much to like. Often a book’s first chapter is the best – I found that the pace clips and the narration gets richer as the story grows in Healer of Carthage – no saggy middle here. This would be a great travel or beach read.

Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts
Vegan Chocolate: Unapologetically Luscious and Decadent Dairy-Free Desserts
by Fran Costigan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.95
58 used & new from $13.22

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Recipes I Tried Were Impressively Delicious,,,, March 30, 2014
A publisher sent a copy of Fran Costigan's Vegan Chocolate for my review and opinions. This cookbook is gorgeous coffee table art. The photos and recipe titles are drool worthy.

So much chocolate, so much eye candy.

I flipped through the book, almost afraid to touch the pages, they are that beautiful. I also set it aside until I felt brave enough to cook from it.

Seriously, this is a real deal cookbook. Gourmet treatment, serious attention to detail. These are recipes to make when you want to knock someone's socks off. I didn't have an event planned or opportunity coming up that required a beautiful, glorious dessert of this caliber. Just like I look at Julia Child's epic cookbook as above my skill levels, Vegan Chocolate intimidated me.

Then I got a touch of cabin fever. I've spent the last two weeks doing a whole lot of resting trying to kick a viral hybrid of yuck. And Sunday afternoon I decided I needed to do some cooking. So I flipped through this gem and picked some recipes for which I had the ingredients. This was a challenge based on the whole two weeks virus thing. I haven't been spending much time in the grocery store.

For my experiences with the recipes and my opinions keep reading.

Recipe 1... Graham Crackers. Store bought graham crackers are sure nice and convenient when you can find a vegan version. However, they don't touch the flavor of homemade. And honestly, these are delicious. I didn't get fancy and cut disks and make them cute like in the cookbook, I ran my knife over the flat sheet of dough and poked some holes. Nothing gourmet on my end. But this is an easy recipe and one that is the base for her Magic Cookie Bars, Smores and Moon Pies. I can only imagine how off the charts those are going to be based on how great the other desserts were.

Recipe 2... Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I dare anyone to guess these are vegan. No way. These are chewy, crispy, chocolatey and delicious. The recipe doesn't make a huge batch and that is probably good. Just sayin.

Recipe 3...Almond Cookie Crust. I put this together for a base for a chocolate cream pie made with her chocolate pudding. Let me talk about the crust. Yum. It would be a delicious base for just about any filling you could come up with. Cookieish and pie crustish at the same time and tasty.

Recipe 4... Okay. The piece du resistance. Almost Instant Chocolate Pudding. Holy moly. Wow. This took me back to 8th grade Home Ec when I struggled over home cooked pudding. The horror of eggs being put in the pudding was replaced by finally getting it cooked without floaty nastiness...once. This Almost Instant Chocolate Pudding tasted so much better with no eggs and it really was easy. Easy. And delicious. I consider the price tag on this book worth it for that recipe alone. It set up amazingly as chocolate cream pie. I can't wait to serve it for guests down the road. Off the charts creamy and decadently chocolately.

With these recipes turning out to be so delicious I can't wait to try others. Yes. This cookbook calls for some ingredients you might not have in your cupboard. Yes there are steps to many of them that seem intimidating. But with results like I got, I am so ready to embrace vegan gourmet chocolate desserts that could absolutely make an omnivore weak in the knees. If you are tempted by this book, I don't think you'll be sorry for hitting "add to cart."
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 1, 2014 8:13 PM PDT

The Prayer Box
The Prayer Box
by Lisa Wingate
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.60
78 used & new from $7.83

5.0 out of 5 stars A Satisfying, Poignant Story of Renewal and Hope, February 12, 2014
This review is from: The Prayer Box (Paperback)
Over years of reviewing I've gotten a little more critical and a little less impressed with basic word weaving. I hate to admit this, it makes me feel jaded because writing is hard work and any person who puts the effort into creating the best book they can and seeing it through the difficult editing and publishing process should be celebrated. But not every tale resonates with me, not every author has a magic touch that pulls me into a story. And I know opinions are so subjective and my definition may not be yours. However, I'm talking about books that get me so let me share my thoughts further. Every once in a while I pick up a book, crack the cover and read the first paragraph, then eagerly read the next, and I find myself falling into a story that pulls at me and touches my soul. When this happens, I slow down and savor the journey I was blessed to travel between the title page and the end. A sigh of contentment comes as I close the cover for the final time.

I gravitate to authors who possess the magical ability to tell a good story with vibrant characters and poetic prose. Not everyone will agree with my definition of perfect. Some folks don't need or want depth, they want escapism and entertainment. But I crave beauty in my fiction, and characters I love to hate, hate to love, cheer for, almost even consider praying for because they become so real to me.

The Prayer Box was a pleasure to read. From the first paragraph I relished this novel. There is a poignant, underlying melancholy in Tandi's story. A wistful hope of something she could not define that was missing from her life, and in her brokenness she travels to childhood stomping grounds to find it. Tandi's life is a mess, and this is fiction that probably won't pass the standards of those who expect specific Christian conversion moments or inspirational cleanliness. The struggles in Tandi's world are too real and too challenging to be a pure read. However, those who want honesty tossed in with hope should find much to like in this novel. This novel might move a little slow for some, too, but I love a languid read and this style fit perfectly in a town crushed by a hurricane, and a woman crushed by loving the wrong people and finding solace in pills.

Many descriptions feel like works of art. The driving needs and emotions of the characters are often poignant and painful. The spiritual hungers and simple answers are realistic and the balm that comes from the hope Tandi finds in the creaky, ancient home of a dead woman is touching.

The Prayer Box would be a perfect book to tackle in January. January, when we all have fresh green tendrils of hope that we will make different choices and changes in our lives. That this will be the year we let go of something that holds on tight to our hearts or souls or bodies. Or this year will be when we stand up for ourselves or put our voice out there for the world to hear. Tandi has so much that has gone wrong in her life. And hope is very often a terrifying thing because it kind of demands that we step out in faith.

Fiction is a story. There is no real, brave Tandi outside of the character so well written. But, sometimes, a story can create a catalyst to do one thing differently and that one thing can open the door for another and that small flame of absolute truth about the human character and our very big and good God can ignite in a real life person. I believe that's why Jesus used story. And why the Bible contains so many stories. When God gets hold of the raw clay of a human life, watch out, people are changed and changed people change the world in wide reaching ripples.

I recommend this book, one of the best I've read in quite a while.

A Fall of Marigolds
A Fall of Marigolds
by Susan Meissner
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.54
54 used & new from $7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating Read...A Sensory Experience, February 12, 2014
This review is from: A Fall of Marigolds (Paperback)
I haven't read Susan Meissner in a while. Every time I pick up one of her books I'm instantly into transported to wherever she sends me. A Fall of Marigolds is no exception. Meissner expertly weaves an epic story that centers around a fragile connection that changes the lives of the women who touch it.

Set in September 1911 and September 2011, two women, Clara and Taryn struggle with tremendous loss and the horror of witnessing tragedies. One scarf, splashed with vibrant, yellow marigolds and the embroidered name Lily, ties the two women together. Both women have to come to terms with their lost loves after discovering the healing that comes through time, the care of others and simple truth that hope can overcome the worst horror.

The loss and terror from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire sends Clara to an in-between island hideaway teeming with lost and hurting souls who get detained by disease as they attempt to enter their dreams of America's freedoms. Taryn hides in a muffled nest filled with beauty and fabrics and a secret shame that she was the reason her husband died during the terror strike on the World Trade Towers.

The colors of the scarf demands the attention of each woman, a century apart, and pulls her into a story much bigger than herself. As the women change and begin to come to terms the healing that need to take place the memories of the fires, explosions and loss turn to memories of peace and hope grows.

A Fall of Marigolds isn't an easy read, I teared up several times and had to set the book down to escape some of the intensity. But it's a beautiful tapestry of human need and longing, of horror and hope, of ashes turning into beauty. Meissner is an artist, the prose alone is haunting and beautiful, add realistic characters and the power of the story and this becomes a must read novel. I highly recommend it. Marigolds will linger a very long time in my memory and I don't think I'll wait quite as long to pick up the next Meissner novel.

Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Treats
Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Treats
by Terry Hope Romero
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.85
90 used & new from $4.43

5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious...Nuff Said., January 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this tiny little cute book for a cookie baking blitz last November. It's joined us for two years of Vegan baking. Will it join me for a third?

Uh Yeah!

Great pictures and some great recipes. I think I've made ten or so of them. So here is the list of favorites....

The Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows are worth the price of the book if you are a peanut butter chocolate fan. My pillows looked like little hats when finished so I'd recommend parchment paper or more chilling time. But the taste? Sweet mercy. She calls for black cocoa which is the stuff that makes oreos dark, but I used the regular stuff and they were fab. I'm a cheapskate so I don't buy a lot of non-dairy flavored chips like peanut butter and butterscotch etc and my hubby loves those chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips so I have yet to have made them since going vegan. Now I don't have to, the Peanut Butter Chocolate Pillows scratch that itch.

The second recipe that makes the the book a must keep forever...Caramel Pecan Bars.

Warning. If you have a sweet tooth, you will be tempted to eat the whole pan. A-m-a-z-i-n-g.

We also tried the following which involved mixed opinions but were solid none the less: Mocha Mamas which were nice, tasty little cookies. Starry Fudge Shortbreads were kinda meh in my opinion and a lot of work, but one girl who joined us both years is still waxing eloquently about how much she loved them.

The have classic Christmas recipes, too. The Roll Out Sugar Cookies and the Gingerbreads were both great, and turned out well. The ladies know their biscotti, we didn't make a recipe from this book but the ones in Veganomicon were outstanding. So the biscotti recipes are on my radar.

The cookies we haven't tried in Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: Roasted Almond Cookies with Fleur De Sel, Rocky Roads, Peanut Apple Pretzel Drops, Citrus Glitters, Macadamia Ginger Crunch Drops...and the list goes on.

It's a keeper. For sure.

by Erin Healy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.47
94 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating What If, January 14, 2014
This review is from: Afloat (Paperback)
Erin Healy takes the common and mundane of life and twists them with what ifs and the supernatural and the end result is always fascinating and a little disturbing (in an introspective way). This is true of afloat. A widowed single mother is making the best life possible for her son. A good enough man has given her a terrific job that comes with a luxurious apartment and a few other perks that feel a little more like attached strings. But Danielle understands that the strings might just be justified to give her son the security he lost with the death of his daddy.

Recovering alcoholic Vance has designed a tiny city that is nearly indestructible and firmly planted in a river. Danielle leases these luxury units designed by Vance and as directed by Tony, her lover and her boss. While waiting for a potential client to come through the building sudden chaos breaks out.

The world changes radically overnight while a mix of characters find themselves stranded and cut off from the world. The truth of who they are and what they've done begins to unfold with tense page turning drama.

This is an intense read that had me flipping pages as fast as I could and staying up a little later than I wanted to. Healy creates great characters and puts them into fascinating and fragile environments to test and challenge them. Maybe not for the escape into a happy place crowd but perfect for those who love a book with some meat and a bit of gristle to work on. A great read. This was a publisher provided book sent for my review.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [Blu-ray]
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Ben Stiller
Price: $19.99
15 used & new from $16.00

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweet, Charming, Deep, Whimsical Feel Good Movie, January 7, 2014
A film that challenges my status quo way of thinking and entertains me at the same time is a treat. From the amazing scenery on Walter Mitty's adventure, to the deep characterization, from the whimsical zone-outs to the day in and day out details of life, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was a pleasure to watch.

Not everyone is going to love this little gem because even though there is action and adventure there are moments of thoughtful introspection which slows it down a bit. But the combo of the two elements is perfect in my opinion. I also appreciate that I can watch this with older and younger folks and not cringe every five minutes because of language or raunchy humor.

If you are looking for a movie that will leave you feeling good, check out The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

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