Thursday, December 27, 2012

Courting Cate - A Book Review

Courting Cate by Leslie Gould is a beautifully written Amish love story. It is the first book in the series The Courtships of Lancaster County.

Cate is not your normal Amish girl.  Her mother died while giving birth to Cate's sister Betsty.  Cate has spent her life raising her sister and taking care of her father.  She loves to read, desires to remain single and wants to run her own business.  Due to several events in her life she has become a very stubborn, feisty  bitter and standoffish gal.  She tends to think that everyone is against her and feels very unlovable.

Cate's sister Betsy is a very selfish girl.  Cate has always put Betsy's needs first and now the results are a girl that thinks the world revolves around her.  She manipulates Cate to get what she wants.  Betsy's character drove me crazy.  She was irritating and I really wanted to see her get her comeuppance.  Regardless how irritating she was, the book would not of been as good without her character.

Pete is a vagabond.  After leaving his home due to a falling out with his family he travels to Lancaster County.  He looks to Cate's father for a job and makes it no secret that he is also looking for a wife.  Cate instantly thinks he will be interested in Betsy, because she is so pretty and everyone likes Betsy.  Pete on the other hand is instantly drawn to Cate.  Due to her low self esteem Cate builds walls around her and continues to push Pete away, but when the unexpected happens Cate once again puts her sister first and enters a "marriage of convenience  with Pete.   Will a marriage without love be enough for Cate?

I absolutely loved this book.  I could relate so much with Cate.  One of the things she says so often is "I read somewhere...."  I can't tell you how many times those exact words have come out of my mouth!  I usually am not a fan of first person narrative which is what this book is written in, but the story is so entertaining that it didn't even bother me.   You are sure to love this book!  It is full of so many twists and turns.   It has humor, heartache, faith, and love.  What more can you ask for in a christian fiction book?  Well done Leslie Gould!!

***This book was provided to me by Bethany House Publishing in exchange for my review.

If you would like to find out more about the author and other books she has you can check out her website HERE.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Clearing in the Wild - A Book Review

A Clearing in the Wild by Jane Kirkpatrick is the first book in the Change and Cherish Historical Series and is based on a true story.
You'll read about a community searching for refuge and a woman who finds her voice.

The story is set in Bethel, Missouri and the people there seek to live a simple life, but young spirited Emma Wagner does not like the constraints of her culture and wants to be independent.  When her outspoken ways clash with the colony's leader she finds new ways to pursue her dreams of independence.  As she clears a pathway West she discovers something she never expected...a yearning for the warm embrace of community.

I really do love reading historical fiction.  I was intrigued with this book in the beginning since the setting was in my home state and it was based on a true story.  I was highly disappointed.  I found the book extremely boring.  I am not a fan of the Author's writing style and have never been more happy to finish a book.  I don't like giving such negative reviews, but this book just was not for me.

***This book was provided to by Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for my review.

Betrayal - A Book Review

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher is the second book in the series Where the Heart Lives.  I did not read the first book in this series and in no way felt like I was missing anything.

Julia is a widow of 13 months and does not trust men and with good reason.  After suffering at the hand of her abusive husband for years, she has no plans on allowing another man into her life.

Hugh Brennan is in need of rest for his horse when he comes upon Julia's ranch.  Julia is in desperate need of help in running her ranch and she hires Hugh in exchange for meals and a place to stay.  Hugh has a secret past that he is not ready to share.  A life that he no longer wants part of.  He has a new relationship with God and he is a new man.

Julia and Hugh are both hiding secrets from each other,  but regardless of their past lives when they look into each others eyes they are drawn to each other and can't help the connection that they feel.  Will they both be willing to put the past behind them and move on to a future together, or will their secrets tare them apart once they are revealed?

This book is full of twists and turns and will captivate your attention through to the last page.  The story is faith filled with lots of scripture.  Reading how God moves in Hugh and Julia's life is sure to be a blessing to every reader.

***This book was provided to me by the publisher through the booksneeze program in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

If But One Year

If I had but one year to live;
One year to help; one year to give;
One year to love; one year to bless; 
One year of better things to stress;
One year to sing; one year to smile; 
To brighten earth a little while;
One year to sing my Master's praise; 
One year to fill my work with days;
One year to strive for a reward,
When I should stand before my Lord,
I think that I should spend each day
Witnessing along the way
For my Lord.  For from afar
The call may come to cross the bar
At any time, and I must be
Prepared to meet eternity.

So if I have a year to live,
Or just one day in which to give
A pleasant smile, a helping hand
A mind that tries to understand,
A fellow-creature when in need,
'Tis one with me-I take no heed;
But try to live each day He sends
To serve my gracious Master's ends.
                             -Author Unknown  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer - A Book Review

The year is 1916 and Alyce Benson is a young whirlwind of a girl who tends to make decisions on a whim.  She also has the need for speed.  She loves automobiles and with new advancements in the car engine the automobile can now reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour!  Her passion for speed is a secret she hides from her family who would disapprove.

One day while at church Alyce spontaneously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa.  She is certain that her dad will give her the money, regardless for his feelings towards church.  When she tells her dad he refuses her the money and now she finds her self in quite the predicament.  She must raise the money herself, but she keeps acting on impulse and giving any little bit of money she earns away to other people with needs.  She must find a way to earn money and quick.  There is a race with a cash reward....she conspires with her father's mechanic, Webster to train and compete without anyone knowing.

To be honest, I did not really care for this book.  I am not a fan of first person narrative and this book is written this way and I also was just not feeling the racing part.   Perhaps it's just not my thing.  I do love Christian historical fiction, but I just couldn't seem to find this story believable or appealing to my interest.  There were however some good thought provoking points, one important one was that there are needs all around us and we can serve and show God's love to those in need often times in our own community.  We don't always have to go looking elsewhere, God's work may be right in front of us.

*** I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.

December Menu Plan

I can't believe it is already December!   Busy times are ahead with preparing for special Christmas activities!  Along with my regular meal plans for our suppers I will be preparing a special Christmas Tea (look for a blog post with pictures), Christmas morning breakfast, family gatherings, and some extra goodies for New Year's Eve.  If ever there is a month to try to cut the cost on groceries this would be it!

1.  Sub Sandwiches
2.  Left over's
3.  Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
4.  Chicken Nuggets and Fries
5.  Herb Roasted Chicken (click HERE for recipe)
6.  Crock Pot Pizza
7.  Pannini's
8.  Homemade Vegetable Soup
9.  Leftovers
10.  French Dip Sandwiches (click HERE for recipe)
11.  Crock Pot Swiss Chicken
12.  Chicken Fajita's
13.  Beans and Cornbread
14.  Spaghetti Bread (click HERE for recipe)
15.  Chicken Kiev
16.  Leftovers
17.  Taco Bake (click HERE for recipe)
18.  Tilapia
19.  Angel Chicken (click HERE for recipe)
20.  Pizza Bread
21.  Beef Stew
22.  Fettuccine
23.  Left Overs
24.  Christmas Eve (family gathering)
25.  Christmas Day (Still undecided, but it will be special)
26.  Penne Noodles
27.  Chicken Kebabs
28.  Taco Soup
29.  Chicken Nuggets and Fries
30.  Leftovers
31.  New Year's Eve  - Party Time!

Perfect Creamy Mashed Potatoes

This is the perfect mashed potato recipe for the holidays!  Do all the hard work the day before so you can take it a little easier on the day of your big family meal!  It is a family favorite for us and oh so yummy!

5 lbs.  potatoes
1 Cup half and half
1 stick softened butter
1 large package of cream cheese
1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned Salt
1 tsp.  regular salt
1/4 tsp pepper
paprika- optional

Peel and boil potatoes in salted water.  When ready, mash in mixer with other ingredients.  Place in 9x13 casserole pan and put two tablespoons of melted butter over the top and sprinkle with paprika.  Cover casserole and bake for 25 minutes.  Bake at 350.  Can be frozen in advance so on the day of the event it is already ready.  I make it the day before and skip the baking part at that time.  I  refrigerate and then bake it when I am ready!