Friday, May 30, 2014

Saving Amelie - A Book Review

Saving Amelie by Cathy Gohlke is truly an amazing book that I believe will touch the heart of anyone who reads it.  Within the pages of this book you will journey to a time in history that never should be forgotten.  The events that took place during WWII were evil and heartbreaking, but during this time there were people, true heroes, that put aside their own needs to help others.  This book captures the very essence of those people.  It depicts the horrific events that went on, but also paints a beautiful picture of love, friendship and the bonds formed between people from different walks of life.

I can't even imagine the research that must of went into writing Saving Amelie.  One of my favorite things about Cathy Gohlke is how she takes true events from history and interweaves them into a fictional story.  She has a way of taking her readers on a journey to another time and place where you experience joy, pain, sorrow, fear and every other emotion right along with the characters.  From the first page to the last I was captivated.  I cried, I hoped and I feared.  When I wasn't reading I was thinking about it and talking about it.  When I slept I was dreaming about it.

Even more this book reached down into the depths of my soul and moved me.  It pulled on my heartstrings in such an emotional way and it made me think about things that I normally don't think about.  Life is about helping others.  About putting our needs aside and doing things for the good of other's even if it is not what is easiest or best for us.  I felt as if God was speaking to my heart through the pages of the book.  Cathy Gohlke is a gifted writer and I can't wait to see what she writes next!

More about the book:

Amelie is a 4 year old German girl who is deaf.  Her father is an important German officer who is less than pleased with her "imperfection" and blames Amelie's mother for producing a child with a disability.  When Kristine, Amelie's mother, realizes that Amelie's days are numbered she turns to Rachel, her childhood friend for help.

Rachel is the daughter of an American eugenics researcher.  The more Rachel finds out about her father's research the more she realizes that he is not the kind loving father she thought him to be.  A matter of fact it seems that Rachel's whole existence is not what she thought.  With the help of Jason Young, an American journalist who is in Germany to cover the war, Rachel and Amelie go into hiding in Oberammergau, a Bavarian village that puts on a Passion Play every decade.  Many people help hide Rachel and Amelie putting their own lives at risk in the process.

Christy Gohlke is two time Christy Award winning author.  You can visit her online HERE.

***This book was provided to my by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for my review.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Chicken Ranch Enchiladas


5-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 pkg ranch dry salad dressing
3/4 cup bottled ranch (I use fat free)
3/4 cup salsa
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans chicken broth
10 white flour tortillas


1. Cook chicken breasts in chicken broth, taco seasoning, and ranch packet. Shred the chicken (For deep flavoring, cook the chicken in a crockpot! The chicken will just peel apart--cook on low for 3-4 hours).
2. Mix the 3/4 cup of ranch and 3/4 cup salsa in a bowl. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and spread a very thin layer of the mixture on the bottom.
3. Start assembling the enchiladas by putting 2 Tbsp of the ranch and salsa mixture on the bottom of tortilla. Then put the shredded chicken on top of that. Sprinkle with cheese and roll it up.
4. Line up the enchiladas in the pan and sprinkle heavily with the cheddar cheese.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and enchiladas are heated through.
6. Drizzle the top with ranch 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

I love it when I try a new recipe and it becomes an instant family favorite.  This yummy casserole is so easy to make and a sure hit for the whole family.  Even my picky eater, who doesn't even like sloppy joes loved this yummy recipe!


1 pound ground beef
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 can corn, drained
1 can Manwich Bold Sloppy Joe Sauce
2 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
16 ounces tater tots
chives, for sprinkling on top as desired


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with the peppers and onions until the meat is cooked through. Drain the fat and return to the heat. Stir in the corn, Manwich, and cream cheese. Cook over low heat until the cream cheese is melted.
Pour the sloppy joe mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with half of the grated cheese.
Arrange the tater tots in a single layer over the top of the cheese. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped chives.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Modern Pioneering - A Book Review

Modern Pioneering by Georgia Pellegrini has more than 150 recipes, projects and skills for a self-sufficient life.  When I received this book I felt like a little kid eating a chocolate bar.  I simply devoured it.  The key word to describe this book is found in the title.  Modern.  If you are looking for a pioneering book that gives pointers on off-grid living or homesteading this is not the book for you, but if you are a individual that would like to become more self-sufficient and are not sure where to begin this book would be a great starting point.
I've been gardening most of my adult life.  I grow my own vegetables, I can with a pressure cooker, I grow herbs both for culinary and medicinal purposes and I strive to live a more natural life.  This book was not advanced enough for me, but even so there were some great recipes included that I would like to try.  It is loaded with beautiful pictures and step by step instructions.  I personally loved the "handwritten" drawings and writings that gave it a more journal, personal effect.  In the back of the book the author included websites where you can find different resources which I thought was a great addition.

The book is divided into sections.  The Garden, The Home, The Wild, The Rest and Weekend Warrior Projects.  The author encourages people of all walks of life to live a more self sufficient lifestyle.  Even if all you have is a windowsill you can grow herbs for the kitchen and Modern Pioneering will help you begin your self sufficient endeavors!

More about the author:

GEORGIA PELLEGRINI's taste for simple food and outdoor adventure evolved as she grew up in the Hudson Valley, on the same land her great-grandfather owned and worked. She followed her passion to the French Culinary Institute and then to Gramercy Tavern, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and La Chassagnette in France. Georgia is the author of two previous books,Food Heroes and Girl Hunter, and her writing has appeared in The Wall Street JournalBon Appetit,American Hunter, and The Huffington Post. She has been featured on TodayJimmy Kimmel Live!, and Iron Chef America. She lives in Austin, Texas. You can visit her website at

If you want to learn more about the book Modern Pioneering you can do so by clicking HERE.

***I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for my review.

The Heart's Pursuit - A Book Review

The Heart's Pursuit by Robin Lee Hatcher is an adventurous western filled with excitement, romance and faith.  Within the pages of this book you will read about Silver Matlock, a young lady who has been left at the alter.  When she finds out that her "would be groom" has not only stood her up he has stolen from her family, she becomes determined to find the man and get back the money he has stolen.  She hires Jared, a bounty hunter and decides to ride with him in pursuit of her former fiance.  Even though Jared has agreed to look for the man who stole from Silver's family he has an agenda of his own.  For years Jared has been searching for the same man, the murderer who killed his family and raped his sister.

Saddle up and join the adventure of this fast paced book to fine up what happens!

I loved this book!  I read it in its entirety in twenty-four hours and was captivated from beginning to end.  It is action packed and I loved the characters.  Silver is so determined and independent.  She can definitely hold her own and is a force to be reckoned with.  The connection between Jared and Silver is undeniable.  I don't usually read westerns but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and loved that Silver was not a girl that needed rescued, but one that carried her own weight.  There were a few twists that really surprised me.  I will say that there are a few things in the book that is hard to believe, but you just need to throw out your grasp on reality and enjoy the ride!

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Miting by Dee Yoder - A Book Review

The Miting is an Older Order Amish Novel by Dee Yoder.  Within the pages of this well written book you will read of Leah, a seventeen year old Amish girl who is questioning the Amish way.  Although Leah is in her rumspringen she has no desire to experience the Englisher's world in a wild way, she just wants her questions answered.  Why does the Amish church have so many rules that are not in the Bible?  Why can't she read the Bible?  Why is it okay for some Amish communities to do certain things and not for a different Amish community?  Why does the Bishop get to make the rules and each Bishop makes different ones?

Since Leah lives in an Old Order Amish community her questions and her desire to read the Bible are seen as rebellion.  She decides to go to a Bible study that is held by a former Amish couple.  While there she begins to see the one true God and asks Him into her heart.  Her family is very upset about her behavior and go to the Bishop.  They ask her to stop reading the Bible or she will be shunned (miting means shunning).  To "scare" her into submission the Bishop tells her family to give her a taste of what the shunning is like.  Now that her family will not talk to her she decides she must leave.  She goes to the home of the former Amish couple and they take her in and help her get on her feet.  She continues to draw closer to God, but is constantly torn between her faith and her family.

Leah's best friend Martha is being sexually abused by a family member.  Martha confides in Leah, but Leah feels it is a secret she cannot keep.  Leah is relieved to know that the Bishop is going to handle the situation.  Come to find out though, the Bishop really doesn't do anything about it.  Leah does not understand how a man of God and a community can sit back and let these terrible things go on.  Martha on the other hand goes wild and leaves the community to party it up with the Englishers.

There is also Jacob Yoder.  He is the only person that seems to understand Leah, but will her leaving the Amish community ruin their relationship?

When Christmas time rolls around Leah misses her family so much that she decides to return to the community.  She has changed a lot but her family and the Bishop still demand that she not read the Bible or profess her faith.  Will she turn her back on her faith to be with her family?  You are going to have to read to find out!

I really enjoyed this book.  When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it.  I even found myself discussing it with family members.  Being from an area were there are some small Amish communities I have learned a few things first hand that would shock a lot of people about the Amish, so what was within the pages of The Miting was not much of a surprise to me.  I read Amish fiction on occasion and I do feel that the Amish way of life is usually glorified.  I enjoy those books, but realize that they are just stories.  The Miting is not a true story, but definitely a story that could very well take place.  I know that different Amish Communities are not as strict as others and that there are some that allow you to read the Bible, but for those that don't it truly is sad.

The author of The Miting is actively involved in the Mission to Amish People ministry as a mentor and volunteer.  I think that is such a wonderful thing.  So many times we think that we need to go to far off countries to be a missionary when in fact there are many souls all around in the U.S. that need Jesus and how refreshing to know that the Amish have not been forgotten.

If you would like to know more about the author, Dee Yoder you can check out her website by clicking HERE.  There is also an online reader's guide that will tell you more about The Miting and the author and you can access it at this website:

Click the picture below to find out how you can get The Miting this week at a great discounted price!

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

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Under the Heavens by Thomas Nye - A Book Review

Under the Heavens by Thomas Nye is book one in the Amish Horses Series.  Within the pages of this book you will read about Lenny a young teenage boy who is struggling with his identity.  Lenny was conceived from a one night stand and his mother went on to marry a former Amish man.  She is not able to tell Lenny very much about his father due to the circumstances and Lenny struggles with knowing where he belongs.  Lenny is sent to his stepfather's Amish family for the summer.  Since Lenny never knew his own father the grandpa (Lenny's stepfather's dad) insisted that it would be good for him.  While there Grandpa and Lenny form a tight bond and the grandpa begins to teach Lenny about horses.  It soon becomes Lenny's responsibility to care for the horses on the farm.  Lenny meets Leah, an Amish neighbor and a romance develops between the two of them.  Lenny begins to see that life on an Amish farm is not as dull as he thought it would be.

I have some mixed emotions about this book.  First, I think the author is a great story teller and does a lovely job of painting a picture with words.  He gives the reader a glimpse into the everyday life on an Amish farm and his writings come from his own experience with the Amish.   The main focus is on the horses.  As a young girl I loved reading books about horses, but I'm not as into them as I used to be.  I felt like the book is more suited for a younger age group, say junior high age, but the books is also about 400 pages long and I think a younger person would tire of it before they reached the end.  I felt like the story line was too slow paced.

Another thing that I had a difficult time with is when I started reading I thought Lenny was around nine years old and then when I figured out that he was a teenager I found it difficult to accept since it seemed as he was being portrayed as a younger character.  The author also kept referring to him as the "city boy" and it was repeated so often that I found it odd and a little annoying.

On a more positive note, the book does give you a sense of longing for a more simple life.  It gives you an appreciation for nature and the beautiful world that God has created for us to enjoy.  I liked it enough to be interested in the next book in the series and would like to find out more about what happens in Lenny's life.

If you would like to learn more about Thomas Nye and his Amish Horse Series you can get to his blog by clicking HERE.

***This book was provided to my by the publisher through the BOOKCRASH book review program.

Out of the Depths by Edgar Harrell - A Book Review

The book Out of the Depths is an unforgettable WWII true story of survival, courage and the sinking of the USS Indianapolis.

On July 30, 1945 the USS Indianapolis and its crew of 1,196 men were making their way toward a small island in the South  Pacific.  They were assured by headquarters that the waters were safe.  Because of the hot and muggy conditions many of the men were sleeping out on the deck.  Little did they know their ship was being watched. Six torpedoes were aimed right at them.

After the ship went down, the remaining crew that survived the attack spent five horrifying days and nights in shark infested waters.  Many of the men were injured and covered in oil.  On top of that they had to deal with dehydration, exposure, saltwater poisoning and shark attacks.  The number of men was greatly depleted before they were miraculously rescued.

Edgar Harrell, USMC was a survivor of the USS Indianapolis and the writer of Out of the Depths.  His pastor son, David Harrell co wrote the book.  I had not heard a lot about the USS Indianapolis up until this point in my life, but I have always enjoyed learning about WWII so I was excited to get this book.  I was captivated within the first few pages and did not want to put the book down until I finished it.  Even then I found myself thinking about the horrific events that took place.  Edgar Harrell's account is truly inspirational.   His faith in God was a key point in his survival and I believe his prayers and quotation of scriptures helped his fellow crew members at that time and thereafter.  The events that took place during the rescue was simply miraculous and shows of God's grace and mercy.  The author no doubt wishes for God to receive all the glory in his retelling of this historic event.

I found it difficult to wrap my mind around the terrible events that took place while these men, men who chose to serve and defend our country, were waiting out their fate in the ocean and then to read about the cover up that took place afterwards makes my heart sick.  The fact that Harrell has remained strong in his faith is an encouragement to me in my own christian walk.   I think this is a great book for American's to read.  Many of us have no idea the suffering that has taken place in exchange for our freedoms.

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

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Through The Deep Waters - A Book Review

About The Book:

At 16 years old Dinah Hubley has to make a decision.  After being raised in a brothel, her mother who is a prostitute becomes very ill.  To prevent her mom from being thrown out on the streets Dinah lets Flo, the owner, sell her to a man for one night.  By doing this her mother's debt will be payed and Dinah can pursue a better life.  When the time comes she realizes her mistake and changes her mind, but the man forces Dinah to fulfill her "duty" anyway.

Dinah flees to Chicago and gets a job as a chambermaid.  She shares a room with Ruthie, a young lady who desires a close friendship with Dinah.  Because of her past, Dinah closes herself off and does not accept Ruthie's acts of kindness.  Dinah struggles with guilt,  feeling unworthy and has night terrors.  She keeps her secret from everyone and wants to pursue a job as a server as soon as she turns 18.

When Dinah meets Amos, he is instantly drawn to her.  Amos has his own problems.   Due to an accident when he was a child, he has a handicap and walks with a terrible limp.  This prevents him from being a normal farmer and he tries his hand at chicken farming instead.  He hopes that one day Dinah will want to be his wife, but can he win her heart or will he find out about her tainted past and turn his back on her just like everyone else in her life has done?

My Thoughts:

Kim Vogel Sawyer continues to be my favorite author.  I have not read a book that she has written that I have not loved and Through The Deep Waters is the best yet.  I will admit that I was a little hesitant when I first heard about this book.   I have read a couple different novels centering around prostitution by various christian authors and have always been highly disappointed about how detailed they are about the "things that a prostitute does".    I am so glad I decided to give this book by Kim Vogel Sawyer a try.  Even though the main character Dinah's mom was a prostitute, she grew up in a brothel and has a "stained" past herself, there was nothing written that I felt was out of line.   It was all written in a very tasteful and respectable way.  As a mother I want to be sure that anything I read would be appropriate for my teenage daughter should she decide to pick up one of my books and look at it.  I can't say I would want my 15 year old daughter to read this book jut because of the delicate topic, but I don't feel like it is something that I have to worry about her glancing at because of the way the writer handled and portrayed the topic.  Very well done!   I can tell you, this book is going on my book shelf and will be read again and again.  That is just how much I loved this book.

One thing I love about Kim's writings is the deep faith and love of God that she portrays in her stories.  Through The Deep Water's is about forgiveness, redemption, hope, finding God and bettering yourself.

 I love to read and I read a lot, but seldom do I find a book that grabs my heart in such a powerful way that it moves me to tears.  This book did.  I cried on more than one occasion and could really feel the character's pain, their happiness and their need for a Savior.

Without hesitation I give this book five out of 5 stars!

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

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

For Such a Time - A Book Review

For Such a Time by Kate Breslin is a beautifully written novel.  I love reading stories both real and fiction about World War II and the Holocaust.   The book of Esther from the Bible is one of my favorite stories so I knew that I would love For Such a Time since it combines both into one.  I did have a little bit of trouble in the beginning since the characters had the same biblical names from the story of Esther and I found it distracting and hard to get used to at first.  I soon adjusted though and I was truly captivated and found myself thinking about the book even when I was not reading it.  I couldn't wait to get everything done so I could get back to reading.  It did not bother me that it was not historically correct and I enjoyed the section in the back of the book that the author included about what was fact and what was fiction.  I always appreciate when an author goes the extra mile to include important information.

The story paints such a beautiful picture of God's love for his people.  I am always encouraged when I read a christian fiction novel that is rich in faith and leaves me feeling uplifted in my spirit.  I'm confident that this book will pull at your heartstrings and you will enjoy it from beginning to end as did I!


In 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric's secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. 

Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric's compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. 

Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp's prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself? 

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

A Lady's Honor - A Book Review

This is the first book of Laurie Alice Eakes that I have read and I am now a fan! From the very first page I was pulled right into the story and felt as if I was watching the scenes unfold before my very eyes. It's full of action, suspense and forbidden love. 

The story takes place in England in the year 1811. Elizabeth has been forced into an engagement to a dangerous man. She decides to escape and along her journey a stranger helps her. When the stranger calls her "Elys", the name by which her family calls her, she quickly determines it must be her brother whom she has not seen in six years. She does not hesitate fleeing away with him only to discover it wasn't her brother after all, but Rowan Curnow. Rowan continues to help Elizabeth return to her family home and feelings begin to develop between them. Elizabeth knows that Rowan is below her in class and her family would never approve of their relationship. In the end she must decide between true love or her family's approval and her inheritance.

This book is so much more than just a love story. There's murder, mystery, hidden treasure and so much more. I definitely going to keep my eye out for the next book in this series!

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

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Silenced - A Book Review

Silenced by Dani Pettrey is book four in the Alaskan Courage series.  I don't normally read modern day fiction but the murder mystery of this book intrigued me so I thought I'd give it a try.  I read Christian based books and this book is listed as a christian book, but I don't feel like I can promote it as that.  There were a few words that I felt did not belong in a "christian" book and there were a few things that went against my moral beliefs.  It is nothing severe, but I am very particular and have strong convictions so for me it was troublesome.  Also,  I had not read any books by Dani Pettrey prior to Silenced and if you plan on reading this one I would definitely recommend reading the whole series in order.  I enjoyed the story line, but I was a little lost when it came to the characters.

Lots of page turning suspense!  

When Kayden is rock climbing things turn deadly when she discovers a body.  At first it appears that it was a simple accident from an inexperienced climber, but as the authorities begin to investigate all evidence points to murder.  Kayden joins with Jake to help uncover the mystery and the suspect list keeps growing.  Kayden begins getting threatening messages and soon becomes the killer's target.  Can Jake solve the crime before anyone else gets hurt?

Again I must stress that this series needs to be read in order.  The deeper I got in the book the more confused I became at times due to the characters and their story lines.  I think it would be a much more fulfilling reading experience if you could enjoy the series from the beginning.

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